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Game 142

September 20, 1929 – Joe Sewell’s Consecutive Strikeout-less Streak Ends

Joe Sewell was signed to the Indians in 1920 to replace Ray Chapman at shortstop after he died as the result of a hit by pitch in Game 111. On arrival in Cleveland, first baseman George Burns gave him a forty-ounce bat.  Sewell cared for that bat, never broke it, and used “Black Betsy” for his entire major league career. He quickly got up to speed and helped the Tribe win the 1920 World Series. 

Black Betsy – Baseball Hall of Fame

On this Friday afternoon in 1929, the Indians were visiting Fenway Park. Ken Halloway took the bump for the Indians against Danny MacFayden. Sewell, who had a legendary eye at the plate had last struck out in Game 27  back on May 19th. 

Holloway and MacFayden dueled through four scoreless innings. In the top of the fifth Sewell flied out to lead off the inning. Johnny Hodapp singled to center. Joe’s brother, catcher Luke Sewell, singled into right and advanced to second on a throwing error. Ken Halloway walked to load the bases and Dick Porter drove in Hodapp with a sacrifice fly. 

Earl Averill walked to lead off the Indians half of the sixth. Lew Fonseca singled into right to advance Averill to second. Left fielder Ed Morgan popped one foul and was put out by the Sox catcher. Joe Sewell stepped in against MacFayden, and struck out. 

It was the first time that Sewell had gone down on strikes in 115 games, or 516 plate appearances. Much like Ted Williams, Sewell benefitted from incredible vision and quick processing. He claimed that he was able to see his bat strike the ball. 

Johnny Hodapp drove in two with a double down the right field line to put the Tribe up 3-0. 

Holloway allowed a single by Phil Todt in the bottom of the sixth, but quickly erased it with a 6-4-3 double play. 

Indians right fielder Dick Porter tripled in the top of the seventh. Jackie Tavener plated Porter with a single into right. The Indians had a 4-0 lead. 

The Sox would score twice in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, but the Indians 4 runs stood up. Wes Ferrell took over for Holloway with one out in the bottom of the eighth and carried the Tribe to an eventual 4-2 victory. 

Sewell’s strikeout-less streak is one of several records that seem unlikely ever to be broken. Mookie Betts made news when his strikeout-less streak ended at 129 plate appearances in 2017. 

Sewell was so talented at making contact that he averaged just ten strikeouts per season for his career. From 1925 to 1930 he struck out only 33 times while playing every game of the season. While still 1,000 games behind Cal Ripken and Lou Gehrig, Sewell’s consecutive games played streak of 1,103 is good for seventh in MLB history. In his fourteen year career with the Indians and Yankees, no pitcher ever struck out Joe Sewell more than four times. 

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Game 101

July 29, 1928 – Indians Hit 24 Singles, Bat Around in Three Huge Innings to Defeat Yankees

The Indians and Yankees were at the corner of 66th and Lexington for this Sunday afternoon contest. Joe Shaute was pitching for the Tribe against George Pipgras. 

Babe Ruth struck first with a single to right. Bob Meusel took advantage of an error by Indians right fielder Homer Summa to score from first base. Shaute would regain his composure and get both Lou Gehrig and Mark Koenig to pop out to end the inning. 

The Indians batted around and then some in the bottom of the first, sending thirteen batters to the plate. Langford singled, Lind walked, Sewell singled, Johnny Hodapp doubled to score two, Morgan had a two RBI single, and Summa singled. Yankees manager Miller Huggins called for Wilcy Moore out of the bullpen.

Wilcy did not fare much better. George Gerken singled, he struck out Luke Sewell, and then Ed Morgan scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Joe Shaute. Sam Langford grounded out with the bases loaded, but forced in Langford. Carl Lind had a two-run single before Joe Sewell finally grounded into the third out. The score was 8 to 1 after 1 inning. 

After the Yankees were retired with only one hit in the top of the second, Wilcy Moore returned to the mound. Hodapp singled. Ed Morgan hit into a fielder’s choice, but ended up safe due to the Yankee second baseman’s error. Gerken singled again, and Sewell cleared the bases with a triple into League Park’s spacious outfield. Myles Thomas was brought in to relieve Moore on the mound. 

Thomas lasted only four batters. Shaute reached base on Tony Lazzeri’s second error of the inning at second base. Then Langford, Lind, and Joe Sewell singled in succession. The Yankees called on Hank Johnson to stop the bleeding. 

Johnson gave up consecutive RBI singles to Hodapp and Morgan out of the gate. Homer Summa recorded the second out of the inning on a sacrifice fly that scored Hodapp. George Gerken struck out to end the second. The score was Cleveland 17 New York 1. 

The teams traded runs in the third, and New York tacked on another in the top of the fourth. Hank Johnson survived until the bottom of the sixth, when the Indians struck again with two outs. With Johnny Hodapp on second, Luke Sewell, Shaute, Langford and Lind hit consecutive singles. Archie Campbell came on for New York to relieve Johnson. 

Joe Sewell and Johnny Hodapp hit the fifth and sixth consecutive two-out singles for the Tribe before Ed Morgan grounded out to end the inning with the score 24 – 3. 

Babe Ruth and Leo Durocher had RBI hits in the ninth to close the deficit to 24-6. The Indians final batting line was 24 runs on 27 hits and 4 walks. They were 19 for 31 with runners in scoring position. The game stood for a time as the most singles in a nine inning game, but was surpassed by the 1992 Milwaukee Brewers when they hit 26 singles against the Blue Jays 

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Game 72

July 7, 1923 – 3rd Largest Margin of Victory in MLB History

In the first half of a Saturday double-header against the Red Sox, Stan Coveleski was matched up with Boston’s Curt Fullerton at League Park.

1923 Uniforms

The Indians unleashed an historic offensive onslaught. They scored at least one run in every inning, including a thirteen run sixth inning that saw seven hits by seventeen batters.

In the bottom of the fourth, Lefty O’Doul pinch hit for Fullerton, and stayed in to pitch. Lefty is now known as one of the games great hitters, having won two batting titles in 1929 and 1932. He holds the fourth highest career batting average at .349, and he helped to found Nippon Professional Baseball after World War II. However, he also holds the distinction of giving up the most runs in a relief appearance with 16 in three innings, including the 13-run sixth.

Walter “Rube” Lutzke

Every Indian starter scored at least one run, and everyone but Frank Brower and Glenn Myatt had an RBI. Third baseman Rube Lutzke was 4 for 5 with 6 RBI and a walk in seven plate appearances. Shortstop Joe Sewell had three hits and two stolen bases–no lack of hustle in the blowout.

With a final score of 27-3, this game is fifth on the MLB all-time list for runs scored, and third all time for margin of victory. Only the Rangers 30-3 drubbing of the Orioles on August 22, 2007 and the Red Sox 29-4 run romp over the St. Louis Browns on June 8, 1950 had larger margins of victory. The Tribe also holds the #4 spot on the margin of victory list, with their 26-3 victory over the St. Louis Browns in Game 105 of 1948.

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Game 37

May 25, 1926 – George Uhle Walks Off His Own 11 Inning Complete Game

George “Bull” Uhle was the most dominant pitcher of 1926. A native Clevelander and graduate of West High School. As a teenager, he played in the semi-pro industrial leagues around Cleveland, eventually landing a spot on the Standard Parts team–and a lucrative manufacturing job with Standard.

Standard Parts Team Picture – Ebay User r.cedeno

In 1919, Uhle reported to Indians Spring Training in New Orleans with a stipulation in his contract that he could not be sent to the minor leagues. He was resolved to return to Cleveland either on the roster or to his job. He later said. “If I wasn’t good enough for the majors I wanted my release. I figured I could do better working at Standard Parts.”

Uhle was given a spot on the pitching staff, and developed his game throughout the 1920s, including pitching in the 1920 World Series. A ligament ailment set him back a bit in the early 20s, but the 1926 was his high water mark.

The St. Louis Browns were at League Park (then called Dunn Field after owner Sunny Jim Dunn) for a Tuesday afternoon contest. George Uhle was matched up with Tom Zachary of the Browns. The starting pitchers battled through the first six innings, until the Tribe broke through against Zachary. In the bottom of the 6th Luke Sewell led off with a single to right field. Batting 9th, Uhle singled to center advancing Sewell to third base.

Sunny Jim Dunn

Charlie Jamieson and  Freddy Spurgeon reached on consecutive errors by Browns second basemen Ski Mellilo. Tris Speaker scored Uhle on a fielder’s choice. Joe Sewell walked, and then Jamieson scored on a sacrifice fly by George Burns, bringing the score to 4-1 Indians.

In the top of the 8th, Pinky Hargrave knocked a two-run home run into the League Park seats, bringing the Browns within one run. In the top of the 9th, Gene Robertson pinch hit for Zachary and drove a triple to the center field wall. Robertson scored on a throwing error to tie the game.

Win Ballou came in to pitch for the Browns in the bottom of the 9th. The Indians threatened, but left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th.

George Uhle

Uhle only seemed to get stronger as the day went on. He retired the side in order in both the 10th and 11th innings, reaching a season-high strikeout total of 10. In the bottom of the 11th, with Luke Sewell on second, Uhle stepped to the plate to help out his own cause. His walkoff home run sealed the win for the Indians and the best outing of his career.

Solid hitting was not unusual for Uhle, whose .289 career batting average is the highest for any pitcher (playing only as a pitcher). After four years with the Tigers, Uhle spent a few years as a player-coach in various organizations. He eventually returned to the Cleveland area, living in Lakewood until he passed away in 1985.

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