June 27, 2017

The 1912 World Series: Part Three

October 31, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

In the third part of this series on the 1912 World Series, I will recap the 5th and 6th games between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Giants.

Game 5 

New York manager John McGraw sent Game 2 starter Christy Mathewson to the mound for the Giants on a cold, foggy day in Boston. However, he would not be opposing his Game 2 counterpart, Ray Collins. Instead, Boston manager Jake Stahl sent Hugh Bedient out for his first start of the World Series, a decision not greeted with enthusiasm around Boston.  The main reason Bedient wasn’t included in the original Series rotation was because of concerns from Red Sox management of his wildness. Bedient did nothing to help cease these suspicions early on; walking Giants lead off man Josh Devore on four straight pitches to open up the game. Nevertheless, with the help of a double play, Bedient left the inning unharmed.

Mathewson’s start wasn’t much better but the end result was the same. Harry Hooper led the Red Sox part of the 1st off with a sharp single into right field. Then with one out, Mathewson got Tris Speaker into a 0-2 count, but made a mistake and Speaker crushed a single into left. The next hitter, Duffy Lewis, almost drove in the first run of the game, driving the ball down the 3rd base line for a sure double. However, Giants’ third baseman Buck Herzog laid his body out, knocked the ball down and forced Hooper at third. Mathewson followed that up by fanning Larry Gardner for the 3rd out of the inning.

The Giants’ came close to scoring the first run of the game in the 3rd. With one out and Mathewson at first, Bedient issued his third walk of the game to Devore. That brought up Larry Doyle, the recipient of the Chalmers Award in the American League for the season. He couldn’t drive in a run, and recorded the second out via a lazy fly out to center. That brought up Fred Snodgrass, the Giants’ number three hitter. Snodgrass was having a lousy series so far, hitting .188 while driving in only one run. The bad luck continued for Snodgrass, who hacked at the first pitch and sent it straight behind home plate. Hick Cady didn’t have to move far from the catchers’ box to make the easy catch for out three.

Boston would take advantage of New York’s missed opportunity, and it would only take them three pitches. Hooper led off the Red Sox third by tripling into left. On the very next Mathewson offering, Steve Yerkes hit a towering shot off the center field fence for another triple, allowing Hooper to walk home, giving Boston a 1-0 lead. Speaker, the next man up, didn’t waste any time either, putting the first ball he saw in play as well. The ball hopped right between Doyle’s legs at second, allowing Yerkes to score on the error. Christy settled down and got out of the inning, but Boston had a 2-0 lead.

Both pitchers settled down after shaky thirds. During the next three innings, Mathewson retired all nine batters he faced in order and the only man to reach on Bedient was Chief Meyers, who led off the 5th with a single. Other than struggling with his control early, Bedient had been spectacular, holding New York in check, until the 7th when Fred Merkle led off the inning by hitting a double into left.

Two batters later, Meyers hit a sluggish fly to Speaker, who made the catch but was slow to get the ball in, allowing Merkle to tag and reach third. With Art Fletcher up, McGraw went to his bench and replaced him in the box with his ace pinch-hitter, Moose McCormack. McCormack drilled a hard ground ball to third, where the ball took an ugly, in-between hop on Gardner, who, with no play anywhere, ate the ball. Merkle scored the Giants first run to cut Boston’s lead in half heading into the seventh inning.

However, that is all the Giants would muster. Bedient got the Giants to go down in order in the 8th and 9th to give Boston a commanding 3-1 series advantage. Boston would look to wrap the series up in two days time back in New York.

Game 6 

Both teams had question marks surrounding their pitching in Game 6. Boston was rumored to start either Joe Wood or go with Buck O’Brien, who was originally scheduled to pitch Game 6. New York had scheduled Rube Marquard, the winner of Game 3, to pitch. However, a sore arm made Marquard questionable for the start and the New York Times speculated that either Doc Crandall or Red Ames would get the start in Game 6.  Come game time, though, it was a rematch of Game 3 on the bump between O’Brien and Marquard. As he strolled to the mound before the game, Marquard got a rousing ovation from the crowd at the Polo Grounds and he would reward the Giants’ faithful with a scoreless first inning.

The Giants, facing elimination, wasted no time getting to O’Brien. The inning started well for O’Brien, as he had two outs with Doyle standing at second. Then, Red Murray, the Giants’ clean-up man, hit a slow roller to shortstop Heinie Wagner, who had no play. With runners now on the corners, O’Brien would make a critical mistake. He turned around to attempt to pick Murray off at first, but did not throw the ball. Umpire Bill Klem called a balk, with no arguments from anybody on the Boston side, signaling Murray to second and Doyle home for the first run of the game.

The balk call rattled O’Brien, as the next two batters he faced, Merkle and Herzog, both hit run-scoring doubles to make it 3-0 Giants. Meyers followed that up with a single into left field, which would have scored Herzog if Wagner had not made such a fine play to bat the ball down and keep it in the infield. With Fletcher up, McGraw called a double steal from the dugout. It worked to perfection, as Herzog scored and Meyers ended up on third due to a throwing error from Yerkes. McGraw kept the heat on the Red Sox defense, signaling for Fletcher to bunt. The play caught Gardner by surprise and when he finally picked up the ball, everyone was safe. The Giants left the first inning by opening up a huge, five-run lead on Boston.

Boston cut the lead down somewhat in the next half inning, as Gardner and Stahl each arrived on base to lead off the inning. Marquard settled down and got the next two batters out and it looked like he would come out of it unharmed, with the pitchers’ spot up. Stahl called for Clyde Engle, a reserve utility player, to hit for O’Brien. On the first pitch he saw, Engle drove the ball into the gap in left-center. Gardner and Stahl, running all the way from first, both scored on the play to trim the Giants’ lead down to three.

Ray Collins, the lefty who started Game 2 for Boston, replaced O’Brien on the mound in the second and he shot New York down in order. Despite a wild start, the game slowed down and became a pitcher’s duel to some extent. However, in the fourth, with one swing of the bat, Wagner almost made it a one run game. After Stahl led off with a single, Wagner hit a drive into the deep, spacious center field that measured 483 feet from home plate. If it were to drop, the hit would surely score both Stahl and Wagner himself, but Snodgrass got a good jump and at the last second, turned his head around and made a sensational catch at full speed and the game remained 5-2.

Marquard, pitching with a terribly sore arm, threw his entire arsenal at the Red Sox hitters, devastating them with his nasty off-speed pitches. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on, perhaps feeding off of the energy from the crowd, who gave him a loud cheer each time he came onto the field and each time he would walk off. From the fourth inning on, he only allowed one hit. With two outs in the ninth, Marquard got Wagner to ground out to third, concluding the game. It was Marquard’s second complete game victory of the series, and this one was huge, allowing New York to keep playing in this fascinating World Series.

With the Red Sox up 3-2 in the series, the teams would travel one last time, to Boston for Game 7 and, if necessary, Game 8. This exciting series was far from over.

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