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Sox Century: Aug. 1, 1917

Reb Russell continues his dominance against Boston to give White Sox sole possession of first place

Reb Russell
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

The White Sox and Red Sox entered August tied for first, and the Red Sox had the momentum, erasing a five-game lead over the course of six days.

Red Russell seized back that momentum. Like Eddie Cicotte the day before, the White Sox offense gave him a 2-0 lead before he took the mound. Unlike Cicotte, Faber held the lead with aplomb. He threw a six-hitter to outduel Carl Mays and allow the White Sox to reclaim sole possession of first place with a 4-0 victory.

Russell continued his mastery of the other Sox, improving to 3-0 with his third complete game and second shutout against Boston in 1917.

The White Sox gave him the only lead he needed with a pair of first innings runs, which they scored despite a pair of pickoffs by Boston catcher Sam Agnew. Joe Jackson eliminated the baserunning issue by hitting his third homer of the season, kicking off a big game for the star outfielder (2-for-4, three RBIs). Now he needed a big month, as he hit .232/.296/.333 in July to drag his batting average down to the .260s.

That’s all Russell needed, as the Chicago Examiner said he disassembled the Red Sox with only regular support needed.

Russell vanquished the champions simply because he outnerved them. He hadn’t much more than a good fast ball. On practically every batter he shot over the first strike. In fact, he never bothered about working the corners, but simply heaved ‘em through the heart of the plate and depended on the speed and the tight fielding behind him to prevent serious happenings. Reb’s theory proved effective, much to the disgust of the 11,800 patrons, who hooted and booed the White Sox from start to finish.

Russell allowed six hits, but two of those came with nobody on and two out with a 4-0 lead. He tacked on the final run himself, tripling to center to score Swede Risberg. Both papers agreed it should have been a homer, but Russell took it easy on the basepaths. The Chicago Tribune said Russell was ordered not to run hard, while the Examiner said “Russell didn’t want to run because of the excessive heat.”

Whatever the case, the fifth run would have been extraneous. Russell claimed the victory for the White Sox and afforded his club to leave Boston after one more game with a share of the league lead at the very least.

Record: 62-37 | Box score