Opening day was today for the 24-game tournament between the 1954 Indians, Giants, Dodgers, and Braves. I gave reasons for choosing those four teams yesterday.
Opening game was Milwaukee at Cleveland, and it was a squeaker. I managed the Braves, and Buckshot Williams (micromanager) had the Indians. It was a pitching duel between Warren Spahn and Early Wynn. There were almost no threats through eight innings. Wynn walked six, but he only gave up one hit. Unfortunately, he walked Eddie Mathews for the third time in the ninth. Eddie stole second, and Adcock lined a ball at Westlake in right field. Westlake dropped it, and the game’s only run scored on an error. Heartbreaker for Wynn.
Spahn seemed weakened, though, as the game went into the last half inning. He had given up a hit and a walk in the 7th and 8th. After one out in the ninth, he gave up a double to Al Smith. I left him in to face Avila because I wanted him to face the left-handed hitting Larry Doby, who was on deck. Avila blooped one to short right, and Al Smith went for home. The Braves had a better right fielder than the Indians, and that decided the game. Pafko gunned Smith down at the plate. It was funny to see the commentator question the decision to send Smith home.
I let Spahn get Doby with Avila on first, then brought in Dave Jolly to handle Al Rosen, which he did. Heartbreaking to lose opening day on a dropped ball in the outfield.