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Sox Century: July 15, 1917

Senators stun White Sox with four-run ninth

The Chicago Examiner headline from July 16, 1917.

The White Sox seemed to seize a sloppy day by the Washington Senators, turning three errors into a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth inning. Lefty Williams hadn’t been scored upon since the second, so he was a no-brainer to start the ninth, given the standards of the day.

And yet Williams ended up taking the loss. He could only record one more out, and Dave Danforth couldn’t bail him out fast enough. Just like that, the Senators scored four runs in a flash and Walter Johnson was able to close it out to steal a save.

How did a 4-2 lead turn into a 6-4 deficit? Three factors converged in the ninth inning to spell disaster:

A slow hook: Given how hard starters worked 100 years ago, there weren’t many calls to go to the bullpen. The Examiner did so here, though, after two of the first three batters reached (walk, extended-battle strikeout, single). Pants Rowland left Williams in for one more batter, which resulted in an RBI single and Rowland calling for Dave Danforth.

Bad luck: Both papers say that Danforth should’ve ended the game with one pitch, but fields weren’t as pristine a century ago, as Swede Risberg knew. Here’s the Tribune:

Clyde Milan then hit the ball that proved to be the turning point. It was an apparently easy grounder, only a little to the left of Risberg. A possible double play was in sight. Risberg skidded over to start it, but just before the ball reached him it hit something on the diamond and skipped right over his shoulder for a hit, letting [Patsy] Gharrity home with the tying run, while [Howie] Shanks legged it to third and Milan scooted to second when [Happy] Feslch pegged the corner throw.

Getting beat: Danforth recovered to get Sam Rice to pop to Chick Gandil for the second out, but Eddie Foster landed a liner to left field for a two-run triple.

Adding insult to injury, the White Sox had a chance to tie the game off Walter Johnson. They had the bases loaded with one out and the heart of the order at the plate, but neither Felsch [5-2 fielder’s choice] nor Jackson [comebacker to Johnson] could deliver.

Outside from making the final out, Jackson had a decent day at the plate, going 2-for-5 in his first start since July 8. An ankle injury was the most recent hindrance to the start of the season. He came into the game batting an uncharacteristically low .270.

Meanwhile, Boston knocked off the St. Louis Browns to pull even in the standings in terms of games, and ahead of the White Sox by percentage points, .625 to .622.

Record: 51-31 | Box score