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Sox Century: July 26, 1917

Bad luck sinks Lefty Williams in his eighth inning of relief

Lefty Williams
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

There are hard-luck losers and then there’s Lefty Williams.

He ended up taking the loss in a game the Yankees won 6-5 when he gave up a run in the 14th inning after an unfortunate series of events, per the Chicago Tribune:

[Paddy] Baumann opened the last half of the fourteenth with scratch hit over WIlliams’ head. Peck [Roger Peckinpaugh] bunted and Williams threw wildly trying to force Baumann at second. [Wally] Pipp bunted toward third and nobody went after the ball, filling the bases. [Home Run] Baker ended it with a fly to [Joe] Jackson far enough to let Baumann trot home.

That was unlucky enough. What made Williams’ case exceptional is that this happened in his eighth inning of relief, and after the first seven were scoreless. Joe Benz gave up four runs during an ugly first inning and was pulled afterward. Dave Danforth kept the Yankees off the board over the next four, during which the White Sox answered with four second-inning runs, then took the lead in the sixth.

The problem? Danforth walked the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and Williams had to come into the game for damage control. He was successful in that he only allowed one run, but it left the game tied until the Yankees finally ended it.

Bob Shawkey picked up the win, and he had the opposite of Williams’ luck. It wasn’t a true vulture job, because he pitched a full scoreless inning with the game tied, and the Yankees happened to win it in the bottom of the 14th.

But relative to Nick Cullop, Shawkey’s effort paled. Cullop pitched the first 13 innings, enduring three Yankee errors that aided the Sox in erasing the 4-0 deficit. He scattered 10 hits and didn’t walk a batter during the whole game while the three White Sox pitchers combined to issue nine walks. Cullop was finally lifted for a pinch-hitter, but while Tim Hendryx walked, Hugh High couldn’t capitalize, allowing Shawkey to swoop in and steal the glory.

While the White Sox lost, the Red Sox topped the St. Louis Browns to narrow Chicago’s American League lead to four games. Get used to this.

Record: 60-33 | Box score