While most people remember 1951 for perhaps the best pennant race ever between Brooklyn and New York in the National League, the season also saw another long pennant race in the American League. On May 1, Washington (8-3), Cleveland (8-3), and New York (9-4) were all tied for 1st place. Boston was in 4th place 1.5 games back at 7-5. On May 5 the Yankees took over sole possession of 1st place and with a 14-7 record maintained their position until Chicago (in the midst of a 14 game winning streak) tied them at 24-9 on May 27. Boston was now in 3rd place at 22-13, 3 games behind. The White Sox would remain in 1st place throughout the month of June.
Chicago would stay near the top of the league through a good part of July. The high point of the White Sox season would come on July 17-July 19 when the Yankees came in for a three games series in Chicago. Chicago won the 1st game 4-3, New York the 2nd 5-1. In the rubber match of the series Chicago won 2-1. Pitcher Howie Judson bested Eddie Lopat while 3B Bob Dillinger had the winning RBI. After losing 4 straight to Washington, 2 out of 3 to Boston, and 3 straight to New York; on July 29, Chicago found themselves in 4th place 6.5 games back. Their time in the ’51 pennant race was finished.
The standings on July 29 was as follows: NYY 59-35 (—); CLE 57-38 (2); BOS 57-38 (2); CHW 54-44 (6.5). The Indians, who had been as much as 6 games back on July 3, would be the Yankees main competitor for the rest of the season. Taking over 1st on Aug 8, Cleveland would hold or tie for it with New York until Aug 30. New York would never be more than 3 games behind. On Aug 30, at 75-51, Boston still was close enough to make a run in 3rd place, 4.5 games back.
Between Sept 3 and 15, Cleveland held on to 1st place. Including 2 ties, New York was never more than 1 game behind. On Sept 15, with Cleveland openning a 2 game series in New York, Cleveland was 90-54 (—), New York 87-53 (1), and Boston still close at 84-55 (3.5). New York won the 1st game 5-1, as Allie Reynolds won his 15th game to beat Bob Feller. Joe DiMaggio had 2 RBIs and Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Reynolds one each. Cleveland and New York were again tied for 1st. The Yankees took over sole possession of 1st when they won the 2nd game, 2-1. Eddie Lopat outduelled Bob Lemon for his 20th win; and Phil Rizutto drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th.
From that point New York never lost the lead; and Boston dropped out of the picture. On Sept 28, 2.5 games behind New York, Cleveland was idle. The Yankees swept the Red Sox in a doubleheader, 8-0 and 11-3. Reynolds and Vic Raschi were the winners; Joe Collins and DiMaggio the hitting stars. It was now New York 95-56 (—) and Cleveland 92-60 (3.5). With 2 days left in the season, New York had finally clinched the 1951 American League pennant. For good measure, the Yankees swept the Red Sox in the last 3 games of the season.
references: http://baseballrace.com; http://baseball-reference.com