Mel Parnell breaks
Babe Ruth's record
ON THIS DATE (September 20, 1949) ... Mel Parnell's record-breaking pitching and a costly mistake by Bob Lemon, not only made the Indians the ex-world champions, but kept the Red Sox three games behind the pace making Yankees.
Parnell shattered Babe Ruth's record for Red Sox victories by a left-handed pitcher, as he led his team to a 5 to 2 victory over the 1948 titleholders. The Yankees beat the White Sox 3 to 1 to maintain their lead with nine games left.
It was the 24th victory for Parnell, erasing the record compiled by Babe Ruth in 1916 and 1917 of 23 wins by a left-handed pitcher. The Babe won 23 games in both 1916 and 1917. In 1935, Lefty Grove was a 20 game winner for the Red Sox. Carl Hubbell of the Giants is the only National League lefty, in the last 20 years, to win as many as 23 games.
He clinched it as his teammates gave him a five-run sixth inning. Parnell helped himself, when he started it off with the first hit of the inning against the Indians' 20 game winner.
The Indians jumped out to a 1 to 0 lead in the third inning when Mel walked Dale Mitchell on four pitches, with two outs. Lou Boudreau and Mickey Vernon followed with singles that scored Mitchell.
During the first five innings Lemon was unhittable. But in the sixth inning, Parnell lined a single to right to start. Dom DiMaggio laid down a sacrifice bunt that sent Parnell over to second. Then Johnny Pesky had a one and one count, when he got a Texas League bloop single while ducking away from a pitch. Parnell rounded third and was waived home when Del Mitchell juggled the ball, to tie the score.
Lemon wasn't taking any chances and followed by walking both Williams and Stephens to load the bases. He had two strikes on Bobby Doerr, when Bobby rolled a little bouncer to the right of the mound. Lemon broke for the ball but slipped and fell. On the way down he tried to break his fall, jamming his thumb and his wrist in the process. He managed to recover the ball and threw a strike to Jim Hegan, his catcher, to get Pesky at home and keep the game tied. But he was then clipped for doubles by Al Zarilla and Billy Goodman to give the Red Sox five runs before he was finally replaced by Al Benton.
There was a little bit of scrap left in the Indians when they loaded the bases in the seventh with nobody out. Bob Kennedy singled past Pesky to start and Johnny Berardino lined a single to left. Ray Boone came in to pinch-hit for Bobby Avila and drew a walk. But Jim Hegan rolled into a doubleplay that scored Kennedy with a meaningless run.
Parnell was superb thereafter and finished the game getting the Indians in order in the seventh and eighth innings.