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1954 Indians flashback: A perfect week captures third Tribe AL pennant

A jam packed week prior, the Tribe went 7-1 to basically clinch the pennant as they were up 8.5 games with just 10 games to go, it was all but over.

A very quiet celebration it appears
A very quiet celebration it appears

After playing half the league last week, the Tribe finally put a stranglehold on the pennant. The doubleheader sweep of the Yankees on Sunday put them up 8.5 games with just 10 games to play. After nineteen doubleheaders on the season, the schedule makers finally gave Cleveland a break with just four games on the slate of this week. One game at home against the lowly Senators and then the final three road games of the season in Detroit.

September 14, 1954

September 14: Senators 2, Indians 4

Mike Garcia got the nod in the lone home game of the week. Manager Al Lopez sat his top two power hitters, Al Rosen and Larry Doby this game. It would not matter as the Tribe jumped on Chuck Stobbs for four in the first. Wally Westlake, Hank Majeski, Dave Pope and George Strickland all drove in one. Garcia set down the first nine, before back to back hits in the fourth ended up scoring two. Garcia walked a pair in the eighth, but Art Houtteman and Ray Narleski got the final four outs, to reduce the magic number by one more.

September 17-19, 1954

September 17: Indians 6, Tigers 3

September 18: Indians 3, Tigers 2

September 19: Indians 4, Tigers 2

After a pair of days off, the Tribe arrived in Detroit up eight with nine games to play. Al Smith singled to start the game, went to second on a bad throw and was bunted to third by Bobby Avila. Doby hit a deep enough fly to score him and then Rosen hit his twenty-fourth homer to make it 2-0. Al Kaline tied it in the sixth with a two run shot off Bob Lemon. But a two out error by Ray Boone in the top of the seventh proved disastrous, as the bases ended up loaded for Avila, who hit a grand slam. The Tigers got one more in the ninth, but Lemon finished off yet another complete game. With the win, the Tribe clinched at least a tie for the flag.

Early Wynn faced Steve Gromek in the Saturday game. The Tigers got one in the third on a sacrifice fly by Boone. Neither Gromek nor Wynn were dominant, but no one else scored until the top of the seventh. Dale Mitchell hit a pinch hit two run homer and Jim Hegan followed with a solo shot to make in 3-1. The Tigers got one back in the bottom half, but Narleski put out the fire, retiring Boone with the based juiced. He also finished off the game, netting his twelfth save and earning Wynn his twenty-second win. The win also allowed the Tribe to celebrate in the locker room.

With the flag sewn up, the Tribe didn't let up. Majeski hit a three run shot in the first to give Garcia a 3-0 lead. The Tigers got one each in the first and the seventh, but it wasn't enough. Garcia got his nineteenth win and the Indians had their tenth straight victory.

Player of the Week

Bobby Avila did have the grand slam, and Hank Majeski had four RBI of his own, but I'll give this week's nod to Mike Garcia, who got two wins and a 2.45 ERA in his 14.2 innings.

Summary

Celebrate good times! The Indians win the pennant for the first time since 1948, after finishing second the previous three seasons. All that was left was six more games at home before heading to the World Series, to likely face the New York Giants, who had a five and a half game lead with a week to play.

Standings

W

L

Pct

GB

RS

RA

Pythag

Cleveland Indians

108

40

730

-

707

475

674

New York Yankees

100

48

676

8.0

780

544

659

Chicago White Sox

92

57

617

16.5

685

502

638

Boston Red Sox

64

83

435

43.5

665

705

473

Detroit Tigers

64

84

432

44.0

558

634

442

Washington Senators

63

84

429

44.5

613

650

473

Baltimore Orioles

52

97

349

56.5

473

645

362

Philadelphia Athletics

49

99

331

59.0

519

845

291