"That was an embarrassing embarrassment yesterday," is how Benny greeted me this morning, fresh with a new plan for sinking the unsinkable Pirates' ship at Baker Bowl. "Look. They know they're good, the Phillies know they're good, everyone who's been following this damn game all year knows they're good. What we gotta do this time is make them feel guilty about beating our brains in."
"And how do we do that?"
He smiled and pulled a giant roll of gauze bandage out of his pocket. "Hold out your arm."
So there we were an hour later, an usher I knew walking us down to some great empty seats behind the Pittsburgh dugout, me with my left arm and half of my head completely wrapped in bandages, giving me the look of a shellshocked mustard gas victim. I also had some baking flour rubbed into my face to make me look more pale, and I guess it was working because a half dozen or so Phillie fans moved out of the way to let us pass. Benny was all spruced up and had on fake whiskers so he could pass for my dad, and when one of the old Pirate coaches headed past us, he caught his eye with a wave.
"My son's very first game!" he said with a wink, "Take a little pity on us, okay?" The coach didn't say a word back but kind of nodded so we figured he was telling the players when he went into the dugout.
Which didn't explain why the Bucs got four singles, a passed ball and three runs right out of the gate. Oh, I know. Because stupid useless Jimmy Ring was on the mound again, shooting for his 20th loss, and we'd forgotten to talk to him first. It probably wouldn't have worked anyway because he would've recognized us in a second, but even if he laughed it might've loosened him up and got him pitching better.
Nope, it was Benny's job to yell at Pirates lefty Emil Yde the second he walked to the mound. "Your teammates are heartless cowards, Emil!" he began, "But you don't have to be! Look at my poor kid here! Give us a break, would ya??" Yde wouldn't even turn his head, but it was clear after he whiffed the first batter Schultz that something wasn't right with him. Hod Ford doubled into the corner, Holke walked, and Cy beat out an infield hit. "Thank you, Emil, thank you!!" shouted Benny, "My boy just smiled, did you see that?" Catcher Earl Smith walked to the mound to settle Yde down, probably to tell him to ignore the idiot yelling behind their dugout.
Up stepped Jimmie Wilson, the tiny crowd making a ton of noise, and Jimmie cracked one high and deep to left. Cuyler ran back to the fence and jumped but it was in the seats for a giant slam!! We led 4-3!! I forgot I was supposed to be crippled and jumped out of my seat and Benny had to shove me back in it while he got to hoot and holler.
Holke booted one at first with two outs in the 2nd to let the Bucs tie the game, and then nothing happened until the 4th, when Grimm tripeld and Moore singled him in to put us behind 5-4. After Schultz walked with two gone in our 4th, Ford got his third hit, another double, to put men at second and third. Holke came up and had a long, tough at bat. His seventh foul ball came right into our row and I jumped up out of instinct and snagged the thing, but the bandage broke on my left arm in the process and there I was standing there, the crowd around us cheering the catch and every Pirate standing at the top of the dugout staring at me hard. Uh-oh.
Traynor led the 5th with a single. Wright walked. Maranville doubled, Yde singled after lining another foul ball into our section on purpose. Two outs later Moore walked, Cuyler hit Pirates triple no. 122 on the year to give him 138 runs knocked in, Ring was sent to the salt mines and we were losing 10-4. I ripped the entire bandage arrangement off my head and glared at Benny, and he bought me a pretzel and lemonade and patted my back. "It's okay, pal. We don't need no stinkin' ruse. COME ON PHILS!!"
I don't know if the Phils heard him or not, but we woke up all over again in the 5th. Four singles, a walk and third Ford double gave us four runs right back and it was 10-8! On the score board, Brooklyn and New York were also winning, so this could be a fun day after all. Steineder was in for us so we had a chance to hold them, but we forgot who we were facing, I guess. Two outs in the 7th, Moore singled, Cuyler walked and Earl Smith doubled them in and we were down 12-8 just like that. I'm telling you, if the Senators beat these guys in the World Series it'll be a damn miracle.
I stood and yelled at my old friend Heinie Sand in the last of the 9th. He already had two singles and a triple for the day, gave me a nod and then popped one in the seats just for me! It's pretty sad when you mash the Bucs for ten runs and 15 hits and end up losing—our 11th in a row if anyone's still counting—but the good news is that we only have to play these bloodless rascals one more time, and if we win we'll end up 4-18 against them!
PIT 310 015 200 - 12 16 1
PHI 400 040 002 - 10 15 1
Other National League games today:
at ROBINS 6-10-4, CARDINALS 3-10-1
After yesterday's big Dazzy dive, Grimes comes through with a huge effort, and Brooklyn scores five times off Sothoron in the 6th on just two hits. They need the runs bad because their defense has a swiss cheese problem all day.
at GIANTS 7-9-4, REDS 2-5-4
Wow. Talk about holey defense. Eight errors combined in the game, but Nehf outlasts Luque when Kelly busts open the game with a 2-run belt in the 7th. The Cincy loss and Bucs win finish off the Reds for the season. With their pesky attack and super pitching they stayed in the race much longer than anybody thought they would, and you gotta tip your hats to them.
CUBS 4-12-1, at BRAVES 3-10-1
Boston almost actually beats the Cubs but they don't because they're the Braves. After coming back to tie the game 3-3 in the 5th, Benton gives up a run-scoring single to Cotter the next inning and that's that. If Chicago can beat them tomorrow they'll finish at 1-21 against the Cubs. Gadzooks.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Wednesday, September 17|
|New York Giants||84||60||.583||6|
|St. Louis Cardinals||69||75||.479||21|