Trips to Detroit, Chicago, Boston as “Little World’s Series” Looms
Vince Guerrieri | On 02, Dec 2014
Once again, the Indians arrived in a city and were unable to play their first game of a series. Rain forced the cancellation of the game scheduled for April 30 at Navin Field. Fortunately, both teams had a scheduled off day the following Tuesday, so they would be able to make it up then, avoiding having to make a special trip to Detroit for one game. And happily, the rainout meant that player/manager Tris Speaker could once again send Stan Coveleski out to pitch. He started the series against the Tigers, facing Howard Ehmke, and the Indians tagged Ehmke for four runs in the first, staking Covey to a comfortable lead on the way to a 9-3 win. It was the 12th straight loss to start the season for the Tigers.
Bagby followed Coveleski in the starting rotation, and he got the nod against Red Oldham for the Kitties. Ray Chapman and Smoky Joe Wood were at the corners in the third, and Larry Gardner hit a chopper to Ralph Young at second base. Young threw to Donie Bush to force Wood at second, but Chapman had come home to put the Indians on the board.
The Tigers tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth, when Eddie Ainsmith singled home Bob Jones. The Indians responded in the top of the fifth, with an RBI single by Wood to score Chapman and a two-run double by Larry Gardner, scoring Speaker and Wood. The Tigers chipped away in the bottom of the fifth when Donie Bush scored on a Ty Cobb flyout, but the Indians got it right back in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Chapman to right to score Jack Graney. The Indians held on for the 5-3 win, and the Tigers had now lost 13 straight to start the season, tying the American League record (the major league record, set by the Boston Braves, remained a little farther out of reach, at 21).
The next day, the Tigers rode a big inning to their first win. In the bottom of the fourth, Bobby Veach singled to center. Ty Cobb hit another single, just out of the reach of Speaker. Pitcher Guy Morton tried to pick Veach off second, but his throw sailed into center field, advancing the runners to third and second, respectively. Harry Heilmann singled to score Veach and Cobb. Ira Flagstead bunted down the third-base line and beat the throw to first, and that was it for Morton, who was replaced by Tim Murchison. Ainsmith hit a line drive to left field, but Graney booted the ball and Ainsmith took second. Dutch Leonard walked, as did Young, and Bush singled home Ainsmith. Veach, batting for his second time in the inning, hit a comebacker to Murchison, who threw home for the force. O’Neill threw to Doc Johnston at first for the double play, but Johnston dropped the ball. Cobb grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning, but the damage had been done. The Tigers had scored five runs – thanks in no small part to three Indians errors.
Bill Wambsganss came home on an O’Neill single in the eighth, but it was the only run the Indians could muster. The Tigers were finally off the schneid. Worse yet, the Indians had fallen to third, a game back of the White Sox and half a game behind the Red Sox.
Elmer Myers pitched a gem for the Indians on Tuesday. Going into the ninth, he had given up just two hits – and came home with the game’s only run in the eighth, scoring on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by Gardner.
But with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Veach grounded to Chapman, but the normally sure-handed shortstop overthrew Doc Johnston at first, and all of a sudden, the tying run was on third in the form of Bush, and Veach, the winning run, was at second.
Cobb hit a slow roller to Bill Wambsganss at second. Bush and Veach were off with the crack of the bat. Cobb was out at first, and Johnson threw home to O’Neill, but Bush and Veach came in before the throw, and the Tigers, who had waited more than two weeks for their first win, only had to wait another day for their second.
The Indians couldn’t mourn too much, though. They were off to Chicago for a five-game set against the White Sox, who had left Cleveland and took three of four from the Browns in St. Louis.
Decades later, Eliot Asinof, in his book, “Eight Men Out,” would point to the five-game series against the Indians as evidence that gamblers might not have been done with the Pale Hose. Red Faber – who was never found connected with the fix in any way – uncorked a wild throw to first in the fifth that allowed the go-ahead Indians run to score. And in the top of the ninth, Hap Felsch – who would later be one of the “Eight Men Out” – booted a ball, allowing O’Neill to take third. He would later come around and score a run that proved important, since the White Sox would tack on another run in the bottom of the ninth.
The Indians were able to take four out of five from the White Sox, win the make-up game in Cleveland against the Browns, and beat the Red Sox in a one-game series shortened by rain. Three games would have to be made up, but for now, it was off to Harlem for what was already being billed as the “Little World’s Series.”