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Jim's Winning Ways






"Good boy, Jim!" cried Joe, as his chum came in to the bench. "You put
the Indian sign on that fellow all right. Just hold them down and trust
to the boys to bat in some runs to even up the score."

But if the boys had any such intentions they certainly took their time
about it. Larry, to be sure, poled out a long hit to right that had all
the signs of a homer, but Astley backed up and fairly picked it off the
wall. Denton cracked out a single between first and second. Jim hit
sharply to third, and O'Connor by a superb stop got the ball to first
in time, Denton in the meantime reaching second. Mylert swung savagely
at the ball, but it went up straight in the air and Dawley gathered it
in.

In their half of the second, the Pittsburghs increased their lead to
five. O'Connor struck out on the first three balls pitched, but Jenkins
caught the ball on the nose for a single to center. Curry thought he
had a chance to make a catch, and ran in for it, instead of waiting for
it on a bound. By this mistake of judgment the ball got past him, and
before it could be retrieved Jenkins by fast running had crossed the
plate. Dawley was easy on a bounder to Willis, and Ralston, in trying
to duck away from a high incurve, struck the ball with his bat and sent
it rolling to Burkett for an out.

"Not much nourishment for us in that inning," muttered McRae, as he
watched the man chalking up another run for Pittsburgh on the big
scoreboard at the side of the field.

"No," agreed Robbie. "But you'll notice that the run wasn't earned.
If that hit had been played right, Jenkins would have been held for a
single."

"Give them a row of goose eggs, Dawley," was the advice shouted to the
Pittsburgh pitcher, as he stepped into the box.

Dawley grinned with supreme confidence. And for the third and fourth
inning his confidence seemed justified. The ball came zipping over the
plate with all sorts of twists and contortions, and the Giants seemed
helpless before him. They either struck out or put up feeble flies
and fouls that were easily gathered up. Only one hit went outside the
diamond and that plumped square into the hands of the waiting center
fielder.

But in the meantime, the Pittsburghs were getting a little uneasy
about the kind of pitching that Jim was sending across. His fast ball
went so swiftly that the eye could scarcely follow it. He had perfect
control, and the "hop" on the ball just before it got to the plate
was working to perfection. The way he worked the corners of the plate

was a revelation. And in the fourth inning, when he struck out the
side on nine pitched balls, a ripple of applause was forced from the
spectators, despite their desire to see the home team win.

"You're going like a house afire, old man," exclaimed Joe, as the
Giants came in for their turn.

"That's what he is," agreed Robbie, who had overheard the remark. "But
it won't do any good unless our boys wake up and do something with
their bats. That five run lead is bad medicine."

It did not look any better to the Giants than it did to Robbie, and
in the fifth inning they began to come to life. Dawley, for the first
time, seemed to be a little shaky in his control. He passed Iredell
and then tried to fool Burkett on a slow ball. But the latter timed
it exactly and poled it out between left and center for a beautiful
three-bagger. Iredell scored easily and a roar went up from the men in
the Giants' dugout as he crossed the plate.

"Here's where we start a rally, boys!" cried Robbie. "Every man on his
toes now. Here's where we send this pitcher to the showers."

Wheeler went to the plate with directions to sacrifice, which he did
neatly by sending a slow roller to first, on which Burkett scored.
Willis clipped out a liner to right, which was really only good for a
single, but in trying to stretch it to a two baser he fell a victim at
second. Then Larry came to the bat.

"Show them that your layoff hasn't hurt your batting eye, Larry," sang
out McRae.

The first ball was wide, and Larry held his bat motionless. On the
second offering he fouled off. The third was about waist high, and
Larry swung at it. The ball soared off to right field and landed in the
bleachers. It was a clean home run and Larry trotted easily around the
bases, a broad grin on his good-natured Irish face.

"We're finding him!" shouted McRae. "We've got him going! Now, Denton,
put another one in the same place."

Denton did his best, but it was not good enough. Dawley had tightened
up and was sending the ball over the plate as though thrown from a
catapult. Two strikes were called on Denton, and then he put up a fly
just back of second which Baskerville caught in good style.

The inning was over, but the Giants felt better. There was a big
difference between five to none and five to three. Besides, they had
learned that Dawley could be hit.

"Keep them down, Jim, and we'll put you in the lead next inning,"
prophesied Larry, as he passed him on his way out to second.

Jim proceeded at once to keep them down. He had never been in better
form. The three runs that his mates had scored had put new heart in him
and he made the Pittsburghs "eat out of his hand." They simply could
not get going against him.

His sharp breaking curve had their best batters completely at sea. They
were swinging in bewilderment at balls that they could not reach. For
the next three innings not a man reached first base and in the eighth
inning he mowed them down on strikes as fast as they came to the plate.

"Oh, if we'd only started the game with him!" groaned McRae, as the
eighth inning ended with the score unchanged.

For in the meantime Larry's prophecy had not been fulfilled that the
Giant batsmen would gain the lead. They had been hitting more freely
than in the early part of the game, but had been batting in hard luck.
Every ball they hit seemed to go straight to some fielder, and the
Pittsburghs were giving their pitcher magnificent support. There was
one gleam of hope in the eighth, when with two men out, a Giant was
roosting on second and another on third. But hope went glimmering when
Burkett's hoist to center was easily gathered in by Ralston.

"We can win yet," crowed Robbie, with a confidence he was far from
feeling, as the Giants entered on their last inning. "There's many a
game been won in the ninth. Go in now and knock him out of the box."

Wheeler started in with a single that just escaped the outstretched
hands of Baskerville. McRae himself ran down to first to coach him.
Willis followed with another single on which Wheeler went all the way
to third. It looked as though the long-hoped for rally had at last
commenced.

But a groan went up from the Giant dugout when Willis, on the next ball
pitched, started for second and was nailed by three feet. Still Larry
was next at bat, and his comrades, remembering his last home run, urged
him to repeat.

Larry was only too eager to do so, and on the second ball pitched
laced it to right field for what looked to be a homer but went foul by
a few feet only. The next was a missed strike. Two balls followed in
quick succession and then, with the count three to two, slapped out a
rattling two-bagger to center. Wheeler scored and the tally was five to
four in Pittsburgh's favor.

Then to Joe's surprise McRae beckoned him from the dugout.

"What's the big idea?" Joe asked, as he came up to his manager.

"I'm going to put you in as a pinch hitter," answered McRae. "I'd
rather take a chance on you than Denton. Get in there now and knock the
cover off the ball."

There was a gasp of surprise from the stands. In their experience
it was usually a pitcher who was taken out to make room for a pinch
hitter. It was almost unheard of that the procedure should be reversed.
To them it seemed a sign that McRae was at the end of his rope, and
there were catcalls and shouts of derision as Joe came to the plate.
And these redoubled in volume as he missed the first ball that Dawley
sent over.

"What did I tell you, boys?"

"Nit, on that!"

"Matson is all right as a pitcher, but as a batter, nothing doing."

"Give him two more like that, Dawley!"

"Take your time, Joe!"

"Make him give you the kind you want!"

"Here is where Pittsburgh chews the Giants up!"

"Maybe you can do it somewhere else, but you can't do it here!"

"One, two, three, Dawley, remember."

So the calls ran on as Joe waited for the pitcher to deliver the sphere
again.

The Pittsburgh rooters thought they had Joe's "goat" and they were
prepared to make the most of it. They began a chorus of yells and
groans that grew louder and louder.

They stopped suddenly as Joe caught the next ball about a foot from the
end of his bat. There was a mighty crack and the ball soared up and up
into the sky over right field. The fielders started to run for it and
then stopped short in their tracks, throwing up their hands in despair.
The ball cleared the bleachers, cleared the wall, and went through the
window of a house on the other side of the street.

Joe had started running like a deer at the crack of the bat, but as he
rounded first McRae shouted at him to take his time, and he completed
the rest of his journey at a jog trot, Larry of course having preceded
him. There was a wild jubilee at the plate. Robbie threw dignity to the
winds and danced a jig, and Joe was sore from the thumping of his mates.

"The longest hit that's ever been made on Forbes Field!" cried Larry
exultingly.

"Old Honus Wagner in his best days never made such a clout," joined in
Jim. "Joe, old boy, you've saved the game."

"It isn't over yet," cautioned Joe smilingly; "but if you keep up
the same brand of pitching you've been showing us, they won't have a
Chinaman's chance."

The next two batters were easy outs and the Giants' half was over. The
Pittsburghs came in for their last chance, determined to do or die. It
was exasperating for them to have the game snatched from them when they
were just about to put it on their side of the ledger. But Jim put out
the first one on a puny fly and sent the last two back to the bench by
the strike-out route--and the game was over.

In their first clash with the redoubtable Pittsburghs, the Giants had
won by six to five!





Next: A Break In The Luck

Previous: Right From The Shoulder



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