The Red Sox yesterday scored one of the most amazing triumphs of their career before 28,328 at Fenway Park, overcoming an 11-run deficit to whip Cleveland 15-14.
It was almost unbelievable. The Sox were in arrears 12-1 against Bob Lemon, the winningest pitcher of the major leagues, as they came up in the fourth inning. Then, they exploded for eight runs. They won in the eighth inning by clipping Bob Feller for four runs with a Walt Dropo triple and Zeke Zarilla homer climaxing the comeback.
The victory tightened the American League race. In fourth place, the Sox closed to within three games of the front running Detroit Tigers. They moved to within one game of the third place Indians and are only two down to the second place Yankees.
The Sox surpassed their spectacular Sunday decision when they were seven runs behind. Willard Nixon, kayoed the day before, came back to pitch brilliant relief ball, and was awarded the victory, although he was rescued by Ellis Kinder in the ninth.
The Sox gave Maurice McDermott a starting chance. He lasted one and one-third innings, giving up six runs. The Indians scored four off Jim McDonald before Dick Littlefield bailed them out in the third.
After they batter in the third, the Indians had a 10-run lead for Lemon, the 20-game winner. Even though the Sox scored once in the third on a pass to Buddy Rosar and a triple by Dom DiMaggio it didn’t mean much. The Indians came back with two runs in the fourth to assume a 12-1 advantage.
If ever a club got off the deck battered, bloody but unbeaten it was the Sox in the fourth. They routed Lemon, who had beaten them four straight, with an eight-run assault. Batting leader Billy Goodman delivered the key clout, a three-run double off the left field fence. Seven hits and two walks enabled the Sox to get back in business. In the midst of all this, Al Benton replaced Lemon to end the surge.
Nixon started the Sox sixth with a single to left. He scored on another DiMaggio triple, a tricky bouncing drive into right field. Ray Boone erred on Johnny Pesky’s drive as DiMaggio scored. The Sox were only one run behind and Feller was summoned.
After walking Goodman, Feller got into a terrific jam but dug himself out with strikeouts. Jim Hegan tried to pick Pesky off second and, when the ball went under Boone into center field, Pesky went to third and Goodman to second. Whereupon, Feller fanned Clyde Vollmer, Dropo and Doerr in succession.
Feller was handed a two-run advantage in the Indian eighth on boots by Vollmer and Pesky. The way Feller had been going for two innings the two runs seemed sufficient. But not to the Red Sox.
Pesky inaugurated the winning drive with a single to center, the first hit off Feller.
Goodman pulled one down the right field line for a double as Pesky checked in at third. Hero of Sunday’s skirmish, Vollmer almost tied the game. He lined a tremendous drive to right field. Bob Kennedy lost it in the sun, but miraculously stuck up his gloved hand and the ball landed in it. Pesky scored after the catch.
Fanned in the seventh, Dropo didn’t waste any time in the eighth. He cracked a triple to the 420-foot mark in center to bring Goodman across with the tying run. This ended Feller’s stay. Steve Gromek was next. Doerr socked a towering fly in medium center and Dropo sprinted home to give the Sox a 14-13 lead. Zarilla hit his seventh homer into the right field grandstand for an insurance run which turned into the payoff dividend, for Cleveland scored once in the ninth.