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Sox Century: Sept. 4, 1917

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White Sox open final stretch of season by routing the Browns

Bobby Byrne in 1915.
Ernie Harwell Collection / Detroit Public Library

A rule of thumb for contending: play .500 on the road and make hay at home.

The White Sox stuck to that game plan over the previous month and a half. They went 12-11 on a 23-game, six-city road trip, then returned to Chicago and defended their turf with a 17-4 homestand. They trailed by percentage points at the start of it, and led by 6½ games by the end of it. That gave them a healthy cushion for a road-heavy last leg of the season, with 17 of their final 20 regular-season games away from Comiskey Park.

The schedule gave them a favorable introduction, sending them to St. Louis to play the seventh-place St. Louis Brown. They took advantage of the advantage, thumping the Browns 13-6 in a game that wasn’t even as close as that score indicated.

Through 7½ innings, the White Sox led 13-0. The seized control of the game with a three-run second, then eventually blew it open with an eight-run eighth, all against Tom Rogers. The Chicago Tribune provided a tidy summary:

The eighth was the most merciless exhibition of hitting seen in years. [Happy] Felsch led with a double, [Chick] Gandil bounded out, [Swede] Risberg and [Ray] Schalk singled. [Red] Faber sacrificed, [Nemo] Leibold doubled, [Fred] McMullin singled, [Eddie] Collins bunted safely, [Joe] Jackson singled, Felsch came up again and whaled out his second double in that inning, Gandil singled. That made seven earned runs. [Del] Pratt booted Risberg’s grounder, letting in the eighth, then [Earl] Smith pulled down Schalk’s liner.

Faber benefited from the explosion more than anybody, because this start was his third in two days. He started both games of the doubleheader against Detroit, and neither went particularly well. His combined line: 6 IP, 15 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 0 K.

Starting a third consecutive game, Faber had another unique line: 9 IP, 16 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. But he opened with seven shutout innings, and after the Sox ran up the score, the papers say the Faber eased up.

OK, his defense eased up first. The Browns scored three runs in the eighth, and all after two outs. Swede Risberg committed a throwing error, and Bobby Byrne -- playing his in his first and only game for the 1917 White Sox, and the last of his 11-year career -- booted a ball, meaning all three runs were unearned. The Browns then tacked on three more in the ninth, and that was on their merit -- four hits and a pair of stolen bases.

The Chicago Examiner was emphatic that Faber pitched to the score:

Believe us, folks, had the score been tight the Cascade curver never would have slipped. He cut out the monkey business of trying to use his “spitter” and resorted to his curve ball. That always has been Red’s best asset and was a hard ball to hit to-day.

There’s no note about Faber starting three consecutive games, whether an explanation or a remark about the extreme usage. There is a note about Byrne, who was born, lived and died in St. Louis, opening up a bowling alley while the Sox are in town.

The Sox signed the 32-year-old Byrne as infield insurance after Buck Weaver broke his finger, but McMullin handled all the third-base duties during Weaver’s absence. The Sox had no greater plans for Byrne, so the head start on his post-career career looked like a wise choice.

Meanwhile, in Boston, the Red Sox had to start making up the nine games the White Sox had in hand. It began with a doubleheader against the Yankees, which they split, allowing the White Sox to gain another half-game in the standings to stretch their lead to seven.

Record: 88-47 | Box score