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Race to the Bottom: Game 114

Three of the four worst White Sox clubs of all time enjoyed a hot stretch in August — but one team, who will become the worst of all, stayed the course

Double Duty: Luke Appling in 1932, as a member of the worst White Sox team in history. He played for the second-worst, in 1948, as well.
Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via Getty Images

The 2018 Chicago White Sox are on pace for 104 losses, which would be the second-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 White Sox, with relatively strong play after the All-Star break, are now on pace to be “only” the fifth-worst team in franchise history, falling “behind” even those scoundrels from 1934, who aren’t even included in this survey.

Still, at this moment the 2018 White Sox are only projecting to finish five games better than the worst team in franchise history, so no one’s quite left the woods yet. Upon conception of this series, I truly figured it would be a one- or two-off, the White Sox would right themselves, and we’d all have a laugh later at how frightening the start of the 2018 season was.

Well, we’re 114 games into the season, so we can sort of retire the notion that this debacle can all be ascribed to a “frightening start.”

But speaking of starts, the 2018 White Sox have also fallen four games behind the very worst 114-game start in White Sox history, a record that now sits squarely in the hands to the 1932 White Sox, who won just 37 of their first 114 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

Game 90

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In terms of worst starts of all time, it had been a back-and-forth for most of the year between 1948 and 2018. At our last check-in, 1948 had seized back the honor of having the worst start in franchise history. Today, at the Game 114 mark, the ragtag 1932ers step forward.

1932 White Sox ⚾️ 37-77 ⚾️ 53-109 pace ⚾️ 7th (of 8) place, AL ⚾️ 43 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 53-109

Wow, has the 1932 White Sox team kicked it into gear heading into the dog days. Since the last article in the series (Day 90), 1932 went 6-18, driving down its season pace to 109 losses, three games worse than the last survey. As it happens this time out, 1932 is the only team heading in the wrong direction.

Game 114 was on August 20, a 6-4 win over the Philadelphia A’s in the first game of a doubleheader. The win snapped the longest losing streak of the year for the 1932ers, 10 games, and was one of the few bright spots for the team in August, a month in which it went 6-18. The win came in the middle of a 21-game road trip, which started with four straight losses and would end with just five wins total.

The White Sox jumped out with a three-run first, knocking A’s starter George Earnshaw out of the game with two walks and two singles; tough hook, despite no outs in the game, because Earnshaw was down just 1-0. Earnshaw would finish with 0 IP, 2 H, 3 ER and a 32 game score. Eddie Rommel relieved him and had a sort of “quality start” of 8 IP, 3 ER, 10 H the rest of the way. Jimmie Foxx was Philly’s key clouter, going 3-for-5 with his 26th double and 44th home run, and two RBIs pushing his season total to 132. Fellow future Hall-of-Famer Mickey Cochrane went 2-for-5, and future stalwart White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes went 2-for-4.

On the Chicago side, Luke Appling went 1-for-4, hitting his second homer of the year to provide the final White Sox run. Center fielder Liz Funk (now there’s an awesome custom jersey for ya) went 2-for-4 with a run and a walk, and first baseman Billy Sullivan went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Sad Sam Jones earned the win to go 10-11 on the season, hurling seven innings with a strikeout, and surrendering four earned, three walks and 10 hits for just a 39 game score. Ted Lyons came on to earn his second and final save of the season, with two innings of two-strikeout, two-hit ball; in 1932 Lyons was a workhouse, throwing 19 complete games, and finishing four others.

1948 White Sox ⚾️ 38-75-1 ⚾️ 54-107-1 pace ⚾️ 8th (last) place, AL ⚾️ 30 12 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 53-107-2

Since the last update, the 1948 club got “hot” (10-14), improving by four wins on its projected finish. At this point in the season, the White Sox were near the start of a 16-game road trip that would end at 6-10.

And on the doubleheader day of its 114th game, August 22, the 1948 White Sox pulled off a minor miracle: Despite entering the day 32 12 games behind first-place Cleveland, the White Sox went to Municipal Stadium and swept both games!

The first game of that doubleheader was Game 114, an 8-1 win that Cleveland led 1-0 after one inning. But the White Sox got on their horses and ran Bullet Bob Feller from the game in the sixth. The final line for Feller: 5 13 innings, eight hits, five runs/three earned, four walks, five Ks and a 37 game score.

It was a four-run sixth that knocked Feller out and put Chicago in the driver’s seat. Center fielder Dave Philley had two doubles off of Feller (and was picked off of second after one of them) as part of a 3-for-5 day. Leadoff man and third baseman Floyd Baker had a triple as part of a 2-for-3, two-run, two-walk day. Appling and right fielder Ralph Hodgin also chipped in two hits apiece.

Joe Haynes improved to 6-9 with the win, going 5 13 innings with six hits, one earned, one walk, three Ks and a 54 game score. Howie Judson earned his sixth save with 3 23 innings of two-hit, two-walk, two-K work.

On the Cleveland side, only left fielder Dale Mitchell and shortstop Lou Boudreau tapped out as many as two hits, with Mitchell’s double being the club’s only extra-base hit of the game.

In the nightcap, the White Sox completed the sweep with a 4-3 win, powered by a two-run blast from Pat Seerey and a two-run double from Appling.

2018 White Sox ⚾️ 41-73 ⚾️ 58-104 pace ⚾️ 4th (of 5) place, AL Central ⚾️ 22 12 GB

The 2018 club has been the best among the four teams racing to the bottom, going 11-13 since last the update and adding four wins to its projected finish. However, the 2018ers are the only one of the four clubs to lose Game 114.

Last night, it was Giancarlo Stanton’s second-inning grand slam that keyed a 7-3 win by the New York Yankees. Luis Severino improved to 15-5 with a commanding victory, while Lucas Giolito struggled once more, surrendering more earned runs than he had innings pitched.

The White Sox still, somehow, are just the third-worst team in baseball.

1970 White Sox ⚾️ 42-72 ⚾️ 60-102 pace ⚾️ 5th (of 6) place, AL West ⚾️ 30 12 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 56-106

Since we last checked in, the 1970 Sox went 9-13 and saw their pace improve by four wins (like 1948 and 2018), from 106 losses to 102.

At the Game 114 mark, the 1970 White Sox were playing their best ball of the season (the club would go 12-18 in August), embroiled in a 12-game homestand that would end with a winning, 7-5 record.

On August 8, the 1970ers knocked out California, 8-1, which is notable because the Angels were 22 12 games better than the South Siders at the time. Just 2,679 at a Sunday matinee at Comiskey Park witnessed a 15-hit barrage that saw Chicago score in five of eight innings, including the first three.

Just two of the 15 hits for the White Sox were for extra bases, as center fielder Ken Berry went 4-for-4 with four singles and two RBIs. In fact, every spot in the order but cleanup (Bill Melton, 0-for-5 with three Ks) had at least one hit, including starting pitcher Bob Miller.

Miller improved to 5-6 with the win, throwing 7 23 innings with two strikeouts against seven hits, an earned run, three walks and the sole damage against him, a solo homer by Roger Repoz. Miller earned a 60 game score. Wilbur Wood somehow earned his 14th save of the season despite entering the game with runners on second and third in the eighth, with an 8-1 lead. California’s Rudy May was shellacked in the game, with a 26 game score.

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