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Sox Century: May 19, 1917

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White Sox rough up Dutch Leonard and set an MLB record on the defensive side

Dutch Leonard
Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress

The White Sox continued to give the Boston Red Sox the stiff-arm by winning their eighth consecutive game, and the second by an 8-2 score against one of the game’s top pitchers.

Dutch Leonard, who set an MLB record in 1914 by posting a 0.96 ERA over 22423 innings, brought a similarly sterling 1.05 ERA into this one. But just like they did with Babe Ruth’s spotless record, the White Sox wasted no time tarnishing Leonard’s impressive numbers. They took advantage of a couple mistakes — Shano Collins was plunked in the ribs and scored when Larry Gardner threw wildly on a Buck Weaver grounder. Weaver took third, then scored on Eddie Collins tripled. Leonard then retired Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch, but Chick Gandil singled to score Collins for a 3-0 lead after one.

That turned out to be enough to win. Lefty Williams survived solid contact to throw five scoreless innings, and when the Red Sox started breaking through to the scoreboard in the sixth with a pair of runs, Pants Rowland deployed Dave Danforth, who picked up the last nine outs for the three-inning save.

That was the only way one could record a save, because the White Sox piled it on toward the end. Leonard went the distance, but not because the White Sox stopped hitting him. For instance, he surrendered the first White Sox homer of the year at Comiskey Park when Weaver socked one into the left-field seats in the fourth.

After Williams gave up two in the sixth, the Sox regained them in the seventh with three singles, then added another crooked number in the eighth when Jackson circled the bases himself in the form of an RBI triple and an error. Leonard gave up eight runs (six earned) on 11 hits and a walk over eight innings, causing his ERA to shoot up to 1.82.

It was far easier on the White Sox’ side of the ledger. As the Chicago Tribune explained, Williams and Danforth were pretty much the only ones who had to throw.

A world’s record was hung up by the White Sox in that they made only one assist in nine innings. The lowest limit for assists previously was two in a nine inning game. Weaver threw out Leonard in the second inning on a scratch blow that rolled off Dutch’s bat inside the foul line. Every other man who hit the ball flew out, and seven struck out.

Record: 22-12 | Box score