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Sox Century: Sept. 2, 1917

The White Sox sweep the first of two doubleheaders against Detroit

The headline from the Chicago Examiner on Sept. 3, 1917.

The White Sox had a firm grip on first place in the American League, but they couldn’t afford to relax just yet. They had back-to-back doubleheaders on tap with Detroit starting today, which could pose a big swing in the standings one way or another.

The White Sox ended up on the right side of such a swing, beating the Tigers 7-2 in the opener, then rallying back from a two-run deficit in the ninth to for a 10-inning, 6-5 victory in Game 2. The twin bill brought a season-high in fans to Comiskey Park — the estimates ranged from 30,000 to 33,000 — and the wild swings in the ninth inning of Game 2 brought back some of the fans who initially tried beating the rush.

With Boston idle, the White Sox gained a whole game, extending their lead to 4½ games, and an imposing one at that considering the Sox had nine games in hand, and they were all in the win column (85-47 to 76-47).

There seemingly wasn’t much to the first game. They greeted Willie Mitchell with four runs in the first. Mitchell plunked Fred McMullin and Donie Bush committed an error, and Joe Jackson started the capitalization with a two-run double. Singles by Happy Felsch and Chick Gandil tacked on two more to give Eddie Cicotte all the runs they needed. They piled on three more runs to be safe in the third, including Jackson’s fourth homer of the year. He finished a triple short of the cycle as his raised his average to .286.

Cicotte cruised with the cushion. He went the distance, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits and a walk to run his record to 22-11 on the season.

The second game addressed the drama deficit, because both starters were pushed to their breaking points.

The White Sox led the game 3-1 through eight innings, taking the two-run lead in the sixth with a two-out rally aided by two Detroit errors. Reb Russell came out to pitch the ninth, and the Chicago Examiner said thousands were leaving the stands as Ty Cobb came to the plate in the ninth.

After Cobb singled and Bobby Veach singled him to third, the crowd stopped leaving. Russell induced a popup from George Harper, but George Burns singled and Ralph Young double to give Detroit a 4-3 lead and end Russell’s night. Dave Danforth couldn’t provide immediate help, giving up an RBI single to Oscar Stanage before recording the final two outs.

With the Sox trailing 5-3, fans started leaving again. It looked bleak when George Cunningham retired two of the first three hitters in the ninth. He had a runner on second, but he only needed to retire one of the White Sox’ bottom-of-the-order hitters to do so.

Pants Rowland went to his bench, though, and he had the touch. Eddie Murphy pinch-hit for Ray Schalk and delivered an RBI double to make it a one-run game. Shano Collins then came off the bench for Danforth and came through with a single through the left side, scoring Murphy and making it a whole new ballgame.

Well, kinda. When the game went to the 10th, Rowland went to his third pitcher of the game, and Lefty Williams made easy work of the Tigers. He struck out the first two hitters, and when Harper reached on a Swede Risberg error, he was caught stealing.

But maybe it was only half a new ballgame, because Detroit manager Hughie Jennings stuck with Cunningham. Eddie Collins didn’t mind that. Collins started the Sox’ two-out rally in the sixth with a single and a stolen base, and he started this one in the 10th with a one-out walk. He then swiped second for his second steal of the game, swiped third for his third, and then came home on a Happy Felsch sac fly to win it.

The doubleheader was exactly what the White Sox needed, although one can look at the various elements — a four-run first in Game 1, a four-error game by Detroit in the Game 2 — and wonder whether it suited their needs a little too well.

Record: 85-47 | Game 1 box | Game 2 box