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. 

Baseball Reference Box Score


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 

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 60

June 23, 1931 – 23-0 over Boston in Doubleheader

The Indians were originally scheduled to face the Red Sox at League Park on Tuesday afternoon, June 23rd 1931. The game originally scheduled for May 11th was postponed due to threatening weather, and June 23rd became a traditional doubleheader consisting of Games 59 and 60.

Game 59 was something of a pitcher’s duel for the first 6 innings. In the bottom of the 6th the Indians broke the ice when Johnny Hodapp got caught in a pickle attempting to steal second. Ed Morgan was able to score from 3rd before the Sox tagged Hodapp out.

photo: johnnyhodapp.com

The Tribe scored 8 runs on 9 hits in the bottom of the 8th. Ultimately, Clint Brown threw a 5-hit shutout for the Tribe while the Indians manufactured thirteen runs in the final three innings.

Baseball Reference Box Score – Game 59

In the second leg of the doubleheader, pitcher Willis Hudlin was even more brilliant. He threw a complete game 1-hit shutout. No Boston baserunner ever made it past first.

Earl Averill hit 7 for 10 combined over the two games, with 4 RBI. His two-run double to right field in the bottom of the third basically put the game out of reach for the scuffling Red Sox.

Scorecard for Game 60, 1931

They hit 15 for 27 with runners in scoring position–always a recipe for success. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the Tribe scored 23 runs in the two games combined with no home runs.

How often have the Indians put up consecutive double-digit scores in consecutive shutouts? Twice. 87 years later, the 2018 Indians beat the White Sox 12-0 in Game 73 and the Tigers 10-0 in Game 74. With the decline of double-headers, the likelihood of seeing a repeat of 1931 seems infinitesimally small.

Baseball Reference Box Score – Game 60