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Speeding Up

St. Louis was in good form on the following day, and a perfect deluge
of hits came from their bats. The Giants, too, had a good hitting day,
and the fans who like to see free batting had their desire satisfied to
the full. And their pleasure was all the greater because the home team
had the best of the duel, and came out on top by a score of 17 to 12.

Jim was in the box on the next day, and by superb pitching had the St.
Louis sluggers hitting like a kindergarten team. They simply could not
solve him. His team mates had scarcely anything to do, and only by the
narrowest of margins did he miss turning the Cardinals back without a
hit. One hit narrowly escaped the fingers of the second baseman, as
he leaped in the air for it. But it did escape him, and counted for
the only hit made by the St. Louis in the game. It was a magnificent
exhibition and wound up a disastrous trip in a blaze of glory.

Still it could not be denied that the trip had put a big dent in the
Giants' aspirations for the pennant. Instead of the twelve games out
of sixteen that McRae had asked for, they had only turned in six
victories. It was the most miserable record that the Giants had made
for years.

"And we call ourselves a good road team!" snorted Curry in disgust, as
they settled down in the Pullman for the long ride back from St. Louis
to New York. "A bunch of school girls could have done better work."

"Luck was against us," ventured Larry. "It sure was against us."

"Luck, nothing!" exclaimed Curry. "We simply fell down, and fell down
hard. The whole League is laughing at us. Look at the way the other
Eastern teams held up their end. The Brooklyns copped ten games, the
Bostons got eleven, and the Phillies pulled down seven. We ought to
sneak back into New York on a freight train instead of riding in

"I guess there won't be any band at the station to meet us," remarked
Joe. "But after all, any team is liable to have a slump and play like
a lot of dubs. Let's hope we've got all the bad playing out of our
systems. From now on we're going to climb."

"That's the way to talk," chimed in Jim. "Of course we can't deny that
we've stubbed our toes on this trip. But we know in our heart that
we've got the best team in the League. We've got the Indian sign on all
of them. The fans that are roasting us now will be shouting their heads
off when we get started on our winning streak. Remember, boys, it's a
long worm that has no turning."

There was a general laugh at this, and the spirits of the party
lightened a little. But not all of the gloom was lifted.

The prediction that their reception in New York would be rather frosty
was true. Such high hopes had been built on the result of this trip
that the reaction was correspondingly depressing. And what made the
Giants feel the change of attitude the more keenly was the fact that
while they had been doing so poorly, the Yankees at home had been going
"like a house afire." They had taken the lead definitely away from the
Clevelands, and it did not seem as though there was any team in their
League that could stop them. New York was quite sure that it was going
to have one championship team. But it was quite as certain that it was
not going to have two. That hope had gone glimmering.

Both teams were occupying the Polo Grounds for the season, while the
new park of the Yankees was being completed. The schedule therefore had
been arranged so that while one of the teams was playing at home the
other was playing somewhere out of town.

Thus on the very day the Giants reached home the Yankees were starting
out on their trip to other cities. They went away in the glory of
victory. The Giants came home in the gloom of defeat.

The change of sentiment was visible in the first home game that the
Giants played. On the preceding day, at their last game, the Yankees
had played before a crowd of twenty-five thousand. The first game of
the Giants drew scarcely more than three thousand. Many of these were
the holders of free season passes, others, like the reporters, had to
be there, while the rest were made up of the chronic fans who followed
the Giants through thick and thin. There was no enthusiasm, and even
the fact that the Giants won did not dispel the funereal atmosphere.

And then the Giants began to climb!

At first the process did not attract much attention. The public was so
thoroughly disheartened by the downfall of their favorites in the West,
that they took it for granted that they were out of the running for the
pennant. Of course it was assumed that they would finish in the first
division--it was very seldom that a New York team could not be depended
on to do that--and that by some kind of miracle it might be possible
to finish second. But there was very little consolation in that.
New York wanted a winner or nothing. If the Giants could not fly the
championship flag at the Polo Grounds, nobody cared very much whether
they came in second or eighth or anywhere between.

The first team to visit the Polo Grounds was the Bostons. They had
greatly improved their game since the beginning of the season, and
were even thought to have a look-in for the flag. They chuckled to
themselves at the thought that they would catch the Giants in the slump
that had begun out West and press them still deeper in the direction of
the cellar. At first they thought they might even make a clean sweep.
They lost the first game, but only by reason of a muff of an easy fly
that let in two unearned runs in the sixth. That of course disposed of
the clean sweep idea, but still, three out of four would do. But when
they lost the second game also, their jubilation began to subside. Now
the best they could hope for was an even break. But again they lost,
and the climax was put to their discomfiture when the Giants simply
walked away with the fourth game by a score of 10 to 0.

But even with this series of four in a row captured by the Giants, the
public refused to enthuse. It might have been only a flash in the pan.
It is true that the sporting writers were beginning to sit up and take
notice. Most of their time hitherto had been spent in advising McRae
through the columns of their paper how he might strengthen his team
for next year. The present season of course was past praying for. Yet
there was a distinct chirking up on the part of the scribes, although
they carefully refrained from making any favorable predictions that
afterward they might be sorry for. They would wait awhile and see.
Besides, the Brooklyns were coming next, and they had usually found it
easy to defeat the Giants. If the Giants could hold the men from over
the big bridge to an even break, it might mean a great deal.

The Brooklyns came, saw and--were conquered. Four times in succession
they went down before superb pitching and heavy batting. Four times
they called on their heavy sluggers and their best boxmen, but the
Giants rode over them roughshod. The sporting writers sat up and rubbed
their eyes. Was this the same team that had come home forlorn and
bedraggled after their last trip? Had the Giants really come to life?
Was the pennant still a possibility?

By this time the public had begun to wake up. The stands at the Polo
Grounds no longer looked like a desert. The crowds began to pack the
subway cars on their way up to the grounds. Everywhere the question was
beginning to be asked: "What do you think of the Giants? Have they
still got a chance?"

It was the Phillies' turn next, and they had also to bend the knee. The
Giants took them into camp as easily as they had the Braves and the
Dodgers. And to rub it in, two of the games were shutouts.

Twelve games in a row, and the Giants tearing through the other teams
like so many runaway horses!

Next: The Winning Streak

Previous: A Close Call

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