1949-American League

There were pennant races in both leagues in 1949.  The beginning of the  American League season saw 6 different teams (Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington) take their turn being no more than 5.5 games behind front running New York. By May 8, New York was 15-4 (.789), 4 games ahead of  Cleveland.  On May 31, 2nd place Boston was 20-16, 4.5 games behind the Yankees.   However, the Red Sox erratic play found them on the Fourth of July at 35-36, 12 games back in 5th place.  On that day,  New York was 48-25 (—), Philadelphia was 44-30 (4.5 back), and Cleveland was 40-31 (7). 

The 2nd half of the season would see things tighten up; and it was a steadied Red Sox 9 that would become New York’s main competitor.  Between July 4 and August 15, while the Yankees were barely playing .500 ball the Red Sox played a torrid .786 winning 33 while only losing 9.  Boston was now within 2.5 games of New York.  During this 42 game stretch, Ted Williams raised his battting average to .349 (from .322) while hitting 9 HR and accruing 35 RBIs.  Vern Stephens hit 11 HRs and knocked in 39 teammates.  Mel Parnell and Elllis Kinder were their top pitchers going 8-1 and 7-1 respectively.

Through the rest of August, and for most of September, Boston was in 2nd place no more than 4 game behind New York,  but on September 26 after  beating the Yankees 3 games in a row, the Red Sox stood atop the AL by a game.   In that last win, Boston scored 4 to come back from a  6-3 deficit to win in the 8th.  Jack Kramer was the winner and Joe Page the loser. From there, Boston was either on top or tied for the lead; and were a game ahead entering the last series against New York.  If they could win one of the two games they would win the pennant.

In the first game on Oct 1, the Red Sox pulled away to a 4-0 lead, knocking Allie Reynolds out of the box.  As if to avenge the earlier defeat, reliever Joe Page pitched shutout ball for New York.  This allowed Yankee Johnny Lidell the chance to break a 4-4 tie and win the game in the 8th inning.  With the 2 teams tied for 1st, Boston could still win it all with a victory on Oct 2.  The Red Sox’ Ellis Kinder and the Yankee’s Vic Raschi were locked in a 1-0 pitchers duel through 7.  The Yanks scored 4 in the 8th to make Boston’s 3 in the 9th a loser’s rally.  New York went on to play the National League’s pennant winner in the World Series.

References: http://baseballrace.comhttp://baseball-reference.comhttp://members.cox.net/bngolden1/fantasticfinishes1.htm

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