ZARILLA SLIDES HOME
THE CURSE OF
THE BAMBINO, PART 4
FALLING SHORT AT THE END AGAIN
Zarilla's dash for home wins the game
September 24, 1949
... The Red Sox cut the lead of the New York
Yankees to just one game as Ellis Kinder squeezed the Yankees and
held them to just six hits and a 3 to 0 loss for his 23rd win. It was
the 20th straight win for the Red Sox at home and their eighth
Kinder used an effective changeup and limited
the Yankees to just getting as far as second base until the ninth-inning. It was
his 20th consecutive start without a defeat and his 13th victory in a row. It
was also the second time this season that any pitcher hit shutout the Yankees.
The other man to do it was Cleveland's Bob Lemon.
A daring run to home by Al Zarilla gave the Red Sox their first run, one of
two that were scored in the second inning. The game's only other run came in the
third inning when Ted Williams towered a line drive into the 15th row of the
seats in the right field grandstand. The ball traveled 410 feet and was Williams
42nd home run of the year.
But it was Zarilla's dash for home that really carried the Red Sox to their
victory. Bobby Doerr opened the second inning with a single to left off Ed
Lopat, the southpaw Yankee starter. Zarilla then drew a walk and a moment later
the bases were loaded with nobody out, when Billy Goodman beat out a bunt down
the third-base line. Birdie Tebbetts flew to right-field but not far enough to
move up any of the runners.
DOERR GREETS TED AT HOME
Then Kinder rapped a ground ball to first baseman Tommy Henrich, a few feet
from the bag. Doerr was racing home from third, so Henrich threw the ball to the
catcher Yogi Berra and forced Doerr at the plate for the second out of the
inning. Berra immediately threw the ball back to Henrich, in an effort to
complete the double-play at first. But Berra made the throw slightly off balance
and it went into the dirt in front of the Yankee firstbaseman. Henrich had a
crouch down to get it on the first hop and it was too late as Kinder raced
safely by the bag. Meanwhile, Zarilla, who was on second base had turned third,
and without breaking his stride was racing for the plate. Henrich took Berra's
bounced throw and staggered as he caught the ball. He made the throw back to
Berra, off balance and Zarilla slid in with the game's first run.
As things turned out, that run was sufficient to win the ballgame. But Dom
DiMaggio drove in another run a moment later, when he singled to right letting
Goodman race home from second base. It took some good fielding by Hank Bauer in
right field, to keep DiMaggio's hit from going for more than one base.
The Red Sox now had two runs and the crowd was roaring their approval. An
inning later, Williams slammed his home run on low first pitch for his long home
run. It was the first home run he had ever hit off Lopat.
From that point on, with the Sox up 3 to 0, it became a pitcher's duel. The
Red Sox however gave the fans something to cheer about in the fourth. Singles by
Tebbetts and Pesky, followed by a walk to Williams, loaded the bases for Vern
Stephens. Lopat buckled down and struck out Stephens to end that threat. Lopat
held the Red Sox the rest of the way.
Kinder had an excellent curve an effective changeup. In no inning did he
allow more than one hit. He struck out five batters, with called third strikes
on four them. And he walked only four men. The only extra-base hit off him was a
double by Rizzuto in the eighth-inning that bounced off the fence in
left-center, but he never moved on.
After Kinder threw a third strike by Charlie Keller for the second out the
ninth, it looked like the game was just about over. But the Yankees had a slight
kick left. Kinder walked Bauer and manager Casey Stengel sent out Johnny Mize to
pinch-hit for Jerry Coleman. Mize singled by Doerr into right field and sent
Bauer racing over to third. It was the first time a Yankee baserunner had
reached third base all game. Then Casey sent out Gene Woodling to hit for Lopat.
When he slapped a ground ball right at Bobby Doerr, the game was over.