Notes from the Shadows of Cooperstown: December 8, 2008
Picking Up With Game 4 of Gene Carney's Sweet Sixteen Tournmanent - The Detroit Tigers vs. The Cleveland Indians in the American League Finals
This is the eleventh in a series of reports on a simulated APBA playoff of the sixteen "original franchise" teams. You can find the rules and results from previous rounds by clicking "Columnists" on our home page, and then clicking "Gene Carney."
To recap briefly, the Indians reached the AL final series by defeating the all-time Red Sox in seven games, then taking the A\'s (who had edged the Orioles in Round One) in five. The Tigers defeated the White Sox in five, then the Senators in six; the Senators had upset the all-time Yankees in Round One, in six. Last Friday, Gene recounted how the Indians took a 2-1 lead in games. The action continues in Cleveland with major league baseball\'s last 30-game winner on the mound for Detroit, and "Bob Rapid" (to use Satchel Paige\'s nickname for him) taking the ball for Cleveland:
GAME FOUR, AT MUNICIPAL STADIUM
Both teams score in their first ups, Detroit on a Gehringer double and Norm Cash\'s single; Cleveland on Lajoie\'s triple and Speaker\'s RBI hit. Then both pitchers settle down, and it is still 1-1 going into the fifth. The visitors break the tie when Kell singles, moves up on Cobb\'s ground out and scores on Gehringer\'s single. But Carlos Delgado\'s 2-run HR in the Tribe half of the fifth puts the Indians up 3-2.
Feller\'s first walk comes in the top of the sixth, drawn by Hank Greenberg. Al Kaline follows with a double, Greenberg to third. Feller retires Sam Crawford on a comebacker, but SS Alan Trammell connects, and the 3-run HR put the Tigers on top 5-3. That\'s all that the visitors would get, Lemon and Harvey shutting down the Tigers the last three innings.
But McLain was just as tough. Belle doubled with one out in the sixth, but was stranded there; same with Speaker in the 8th. But in the bottom of the ninth, the Indians stage a last-ditch rally. With one out Ernest Wilson singles and Delgado doubles him in. Enter John Hiller for the Tigers. Boudreau draws a walk, Franco pinch-runs. Joe Jackson\'s hard hit to right is snagged by Gehringer and Jackson is out at first, as the runners move up. So it comes down to Nap Lajoie vs Hiller, and the reliever wins the duel, getting Lajoie to bounce to Trammell, 6-3. McLain gets the win, 5-4, and the series is all even at two games apiece.
GAME FIVE, AT THE JAKE
Frank Tanana pitched well in Game Two, and he gets the nod again; he will face Stan Coveleski, the Indians\' tourney ace. Back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the first by Lajoie and Speaker put the home team on top 1-0. Coveleski gives up one hit in the first four innings.
In the home fourth, the Indians explode. Larry Doby starts it off with a homer to right-center. Rosen singles, and after Delgado flies out, Boudreau executes the hit and run perfectly to put runners at the corners. Shoeless Joe Jackson then rocks Tanana with a HR inside the RF foul pole, to make it 5-0.
Bill Freehan\'s fifth-inning homer, following Trammell\'s double, makes it 5-2. The Tribe gets one back when Wild Bill Donovan walks Belle, Trosky and Doby, but only one, on Rosen\'s sac fly. In the home sixth, it\'s Jackson again, with a leadoff double. Lajoie grounds out, but Speaker and Belle single, to knock out Donovan. Doby\'s two-out triple makes it 9-2. So singles runs in the 8th and ninth by Detroit -- one coming on Bill Freehan\'s second HR -- are not enough. 9-4, Jackson with four of Cleveland\'s 13 hits, and the Tribe needs just one more win to move on into the final series.
GAME SIX, AT TIGER STADIUM
Shoeless Joe Jackson, yesterday\'s hero, tags Lolich\'s first pitch for a triple. But Lajoie\'s pop over short is caught on the run by Trammell, who wheels and nips Jackson at home, a killing DP, that hurts even more when Speaker follows with a double and is stranded. So it is the Tigers who score first. Cobb matches Jackson\'s leadoff triple, but Gehringer\'s hit to short is snagged by Boudreau -- the infield was playing in -- and Cobb is out at the plate. But Norm Cash homers to right, 2-0 Tigers.
In the third, the Indians battle back. Jackson singles, and Nap Lajoie -- of all people -- finds the seats with a long fly to tie the game. Tris Speaker triples and comes in on Belle\'s long fly, and it\'s 3-2.
And that lead is looking good, as Bagby finds his groove and gives up just three scattered hits after the Cash HR, so it is still 3-2 into the last of the 7th. Alan Trammell starts the inning with a HR to left, and it\'s 3-3. When Bill Freehan follows with a double, Jose Mesa takes over from Bagby. Kell bunts the Tiger catcher to third, and Ty Cobb comes thru with a solid hit up the middle. Cobb then steals -- it\'s what he does -- and Gehringer walks. Cash works the count to 3-2, then connects, again, and suddenly it is 7-3 Tigers.
In the Tribe 8th, Belle singles, then Trosky grounds into a double-play, which is double-costly: two outs, but Albert Belle is injured sliding into second, and he\'ll not be able to play again any time soon. Al Rosen\'s solo HR off Hank Aguirre is all the Indians can muster, Hiller closes out the win which goes to Lolich, 7-4, and there will be a Game Seven.
GAME SEVEN, AT TIGER STADIUM
The Indians have won two of the three games in Detroit, and the visitors are 4-2 in the series, so it is hard to say if the Tigers have an edge in the series finale. Addie Joss will start for the Indians, and he is overdue for a good game. He will face McLain, the Tiger ace, who has pitched well in this series.
Both pitchers start well, allowing no hits in the first three innings. Joss finally gives up a single in the 4th to Gehringer, another in the fifth to Freehan, but there is no score. McLain ends the top of the sixth by fanning Speaker, his seventh K, and the Tribe is still hitless. With one out in the home sixth, Gehringer gets aboard with a scratch single. Cash then catches a Joss side-arm delivery and rifles it into the RC gap, a run-scoring triple, and the Tigers go up 1-0. Greenberg skies to center, but Speaker holds the runner, two out. Then it is Mr Tiger, Al Kaline, who lofts a fly down the line in left, and it carries into the seats, a two-run HR on a ball not hit that hard, but good enough for a 3-0 lead.
McLain mows down the Indians in the 7th, 1-2-3. Trammell opens the home 7th with a double, Freehan bunts Tram to third. But Kell, trying to squeeze the run in, pops to Coveleski, on in relief, and Trammell is doubled off third. Al Rosen draws a walk, McLain\'s 4th, to start the 8th. But a groundout and McLain\'s 9th strikeout follow. Then Shoeless Joe Jackson ruins McLain\'s bid for a no-hitter, with a patented blue darter over second, and it\'s 3-1. But Lajoie\'s fly to right is hauled down by Kaline to end the threat.
The Tigers fail to score in their 8th off Coveleski, so McLain starts the 9th with the 3-1 lead. Tris Speaker leads off with Cleveland\'s second hit, a double over first. Now the Indians miss Belle, but there is plenty of power left. But McLain makes Trosky his 10th strikeout victim, and gets Doby to ground to Gehringer. Kenny Lofton, who pinch-hit for Rocky Colavito earlier when the Indians needed runners, draws a walk, setting up the two-on, two-out duel between McLain and Al Rosen. It goes full count, then Rosen swings and gets good wood on the ball, but hits it into right-center, and when it comes down at the 375\' mark, Al Kaline is waiting for it. Tigers win, 3-1, McLain a 2-hitter, a tough loss for Joss and the Indians. Detroit will represent the AL in the tournament\'s final series. Cobb celebrates by sharpening his spikes and punching a reporter. (Just kidding. APBA is realistic, but not that realistic!)