Ed. note: to see the previous installment in the 1914 Braves saga, click here
The National League’s regular season after the games on October 6, with the Boston Braves as the unlikely league champions. Starting with games on Sept. 18, Boston finished the season going 17-4-3.
The standings on the morning of Sept. 18 1914 looked like this:
|New York Giants||74||59||.556||3.5||5-3|
|St. Louis Cardinals||71||64||.526||7.5||3-2|
For the remainder of September, the Braves posted a 12-1-3 mark, clinching the pennant by winning the first game of a doubleheader from the second place Giants at the Polo Grounds. (The second game was called after 8 innings with the score tied 7-7.) Over this stretch Boston played five doubleheaders, including on four consecutive days (!) from September 23-26.
Stallings’ use of pitchers during this grueling stretch was very regular. The “Big Three” were Bill James, Dick Rudolph, and Lefty Tyler. One of them would start the first game of the doubleheader and then someone else — Dick Crutcher, Iron Davis, Otto Hess, or Tom Hughes — filled the gap in the second game. (That said, Dick Rudolph started game one on both Sept. 24 and 25 while Bill James pitched game two on the 25th.)
The Braves would play eight more regular season games in October, including three more doubleheaders, posting a 5-3 mark. In these games, Stallings rested his regulars, letting the reserves play most of the time. James and Rudolph made one start each, but each pitched only three innings. Perhaps more problematic was the injury suffered by Red Smith, a broken ankle, in the next to last game. Smith, acquired in August from Brooklyn, had hit at a .319 clip over the last 60 games, but his season was over and the Braves would be forced to play the World Series without him.
The final season standings looked like this:
|New York Giants||84||70||0.545||10.5||10-11|
|St. Louis Cardinals||81||72||0.529||13||10-8|
Boston essentially performed its miracle in slightly less than three months, from July 5 to September 30. A total of 14 doubleheaders were played during this run with Boston going 20-7-1 in twinbills. Twelve extra-inning games were played, and Boston went 7-3-2 in those games. Boston threw 19 shutouts during the season, with 17 coming after July 4. The Braves were held scoreless 12 times during the season, but only three times after July 4, as their team batting average rose from .241 on July 4 to .251 at season end. Fielding remained constant, as the Braves fielding average stood at .959 after July 4 and at .963 on October 6. (For reference purposes, the National League’s batting average was .251 and fielding average .958).
The Braves went from 14 games under .500 and 15 games out of first place to 31 games above .500 with a ten-game lead after clinching the pennant on Sept. 30. Boston posted a 63-16-4 mark over that stretch. That’s why they call it a miracle.