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Race to the Bottom: Game 90

It’s a clean sweep of losses at this point for our four teams — but there’s one clear ‘leader’ in our all-time worst cellar

Jolted: Four homers earlier than this one hit in August, for which Yogi Berra extends a congratulatory hand, Joe DiMaggio clocked two in the nightcap of a doubleheader sweep against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
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The 2018 Chicago White Sox are on pace for 108 losses, which would be the most in franchise history.

But what really matters here is winning percentage, as many past seasons didn’t complete even their shorter, 154-game schedule. So the number to avoid here is 109, which correlates to the losses the team with worst winning percentage in White Sox history, 1932, would have had in a 162-game schedule.

With that out of the way, the 2018 club has fallen off of the pace for worst-ever.

By a game, yes, but fallen off the pace.

The 2018 White Sox have also fallen behind the very worst start in White Sox history, a record that for the time being belongs squarely in the hands to the 1948 team, which won just 28 of its first 90 games.

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As the 2018 team attempts to avoid becoming the worst White Sox club in franchise history, Race to the Bottom takes a look at how it compares to the very worst White Sox team ever (1932) and two other close “rivals” (1948 and 1970).

Race to the Bottom archives:

Game 53

Game 69

Game 77

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In terms of worst starts of all time, it’s been a back-and-forth for most of the year between 1948 and 2018. At our last check-in, 2018 had seized back the honor of having the worst start in franchise history. Today, at the Game 90 mark, 1948 has wrestled it away again.

1948 White Sox ⚾️ 28-61-1 ⚾️ 50-111-1 pace ⚾️ 8th (last) place, AL ⚾️ 25 12 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 53-107-2

Over the 13 games since the last update, the 1948 club went 2-11, and with more than half of the season in the books stands at a 111-loss pace. Game 90 was the nightcap of a doubleheader on Sunday, July 25. The White Sox would be swept that day, 5-3 and 7-3. The losses ended a 5-16 road trip for the club, and came in front of 42,267 fans at Yankee Stadium.

The 7-3 loss was a game of threes: New York struck for three in the first and seventh innings, the White Sox in the fourth. Among Chicago’s six hits in the game was Pat Seerey’s 13th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth that brought him to 44 RBIs on the year.

The Sox killer today, as on so many days, season after season, was Joe DiMaggio. Joltin’ Joe went 3-for-4 with a double (15) and two homers (22, 23), bringing him to a jaw-dropping 84 RBIs on the season.

A key moment in the ballgame came in the fifth, with the score knotted, 3-3. With one out and first baseman Tony Lupien at third base, Luke Appling lofted a fly ball to right field. Lupien was out on the attempt to score on the sacrifice fly, thrown out by Cliff Mapes, and instead of a 4-3 Chicago lead, the double play ended the threat.

Orval Grove came on in relief in the fourth for the White Sox and would finish the game: 5 IP, six hits, four earned, two homers, dropping to 2-10 on the season. On the Bronx side, Vic Raschi threw a complete game with a 61 game score, upping his record to 12-4.

2018 White Sox ⚾️ 30-60 ⚾️ 54-108 pace ⚾️ 4th (of 5) place, AL Central ⚾️ 20 GB

Since we last checked in 11 games ago, the White Sox have gone 4-9, which is as good as it gets among the hapless teams in this survey. They’ve fallen off by a game overall, projecting to 108 losses — that’s at least two games the White Sox have slipped in their projected final record since Race for the Bottom started, so Chicago is not trending well this season. Sunday’s Game 90 was a 2-1 loss to the Astros, which was, sadly, the best-played game by the White Sox during the four-game sweep in Houston. Starter Lucas Giolito, beleaguered all season long, had his best outing of the season, so that’s a possible positive trend moving forward.

1932 White Sox ⚾️ 31-59 ⚾️ 56-106 pace ⚾️ 7th (of 8) place, AL ⚾️ 32 12 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 53-109

The 1932 and 1970 teams are tied at this point, but we’ll call these 1932 greybeards the worse of the two because at this 90-game juncture, they are 32 12 games behind the 65-29 Yankees in the standings.

The oldest club of the bunch went 3-10 in the last stretch, driving down its season pace to 106 losses.

Game 90 came on July 24, a doubleheader opener vs. Cleveland, a 9-7 loss. The loss was the second game of a homestand that eventually would end with 15 losses in 21 games. The game also started a five-game losing streak for Chicago.

Although the White Sox were far behind the Yankees in the 1932 standings, they were still very safe from the cellar, a full 9 12 games better than the hapless, 22-70, Boston Red Sox.

The White Sox were outhit, 17-11, but bested the Wahoos in errors, 4-3.

This contest went into the bottom of the ninth with Chicago down, 9-2, so it was a last-gasp rally that made the game close. But it wasn’t just cosmetic, as the rally knocked Clint Brown out of the game when left fielder Bob Fothergill clubbed a two-run homer with two outs, and Chicago strung together four straight hits afterward to plate another three runs. Brown, whose game score in an 8 23 -inning, 16-hit effort was a miserable 28, was denied him a complete game win, as Willis Hudlin was forced to come on for a two-batter save. Second baseman Jackie Hayes and catcher Frank Grube both went 3-for-5 in the game, while Appling had two errors at short, bringing his season total to 21. Chicago starter Sad Sam Jones had a 35 game score, falling to 7-9 on the season.

The game came down to pitching legend Ted Lyons pinch-hitting for reliever Paul Gregory, who was without a hit all season. Lyons was hitting just .146, however, and grounded out to end the game.

1970 White Sox ⚾️ 31-59 ⚾️ 56-106 pace ⚾️ 5th (of 6) place, AL West ⚾️ 22 12 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 56-106

Since we last checked in, the 1970 Sox duplicated 2018’s futility, going 4-9 and seeing their pace slip from 105 losses to 106.

Game 90 of 1970 fell on July 16, an 11-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Sox Park, in the first game back after the 1970 All-Star Game. It was the start of a 1-5 homestand, with the ominous attendance figure of 6,666 — seriously, Sox Park staff couldn’t fudge one fan one way or the other?

The White Sox initially led, 1-0, but Detroit poured on five runs in the third en route to an 18-hit, four-homer night. Willie Horton and Bill Freehan both had three hits, and every spot in the Tigers lineup had at least two hits, with the exception of on 0-for-4 day from No. 8 hitter, shortstop Cesar Gutierrez.

It could have been worse, as Detroit was just 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

For the White Sox, second baseman Bobby Knoop went 3-for-4 with a double, and Syd O’Brien, Carlos May, Bill Melton and Duane Josephson all had two hits for the White Sox, with Melton adding a homer. By game’s end, Melton and May both had 52 RBIs.

The pitching, as you might imagine, was horrible on both sides, with White Sox starter Gerry Janeski lasting just 2 23 innings, with eight hits, five earned, two walks, two Ks, a homer and a 22 game score.

[For the 1932 and 1948 teams, records are extrapolated from 154 to 162 games.]