FanPost

'Miner' over 'Matty', Part 3

Third of 4 posts about the long head-to-head rivalry of pitching greats Mordecai Brown of the Cubs and Christy Mathewson of the Giants.

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The winner-take-all game at New York's Polo Grounds on Oct. 8, 1908, was the fifth of the season in which Brown and Mathewson both had pitched: 3 in which they were the starters and 2 that Mathewson started but Brown did not. Brown got the win in 4 of the 5 games.

In 1909, they squared off 3 times, and for a change Mathewson held the upper hand.

On June 8, he beat the Cubs on 2 hits, 3-2.He lasted only 2 innings again on Aug. 28, allowing 4 runs and 4 hits in an eventual 6-1 loss. On Sept. 16, he scattered 7 hits and won, 2-1.

In each game, Brown pitched all 9 inning and permitted precisely 7 hits.

When the pair squared off for the only time in 1910, on Sept. 24, Brown gave up 8 hits in 6 innings of a 6-5 loss. Then he gave up 8 again, in 8 innings, when he and Mathewson renewed their rivalry on May 9, 1911.

Since ending his 9-game losing streak against Brown 2 years earlier, Mathewson was now 4-1 when they started games against each other. He also had a loss in June 1910, in which he went the distance, surrendering 6 runs on 8 hits, and Brown pitched the final 2 innings to earn a save.

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SLOWING DOWN

On Opening Day of 1911, Brown was 34 years old and Mathewson, 30.

Brown went 21-11 that year, but those were his fewest wins since 1907 and most losses since 1905. His ERA, 2.80, was the highest of his career.

Mathewson led the Giants to the pennant, going 26-13, with a league-best 1.99 ERA. But he also up 303 hits, most in the league and 22 more than he had 3 years earlier, when he had pitched 83.2 more innings.

Clearly, neither was at the top of his form any longer, and it showed in their 2 meetings during the season.

In the Giants' 5-3 win at New York on May 9, each was touched for 8 hits, Brown in 8 innings and Mathewson in 9.

On Aug. 7, at Chicago, Brown yielded 6 runs and 13 hits in 9 innings -- and won the game, as the Cubs rocked Mathewson for 8 runs on 10 hits in his 8 innings.

It was the first matchup with Mathewson in which Brown had allowed double-digit hits. Mathewson had done so 4 times before, but only once since 1907.

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Eleven months later, on Tuesday, July 9, 1912, they went head to head once more at Chicago. Both threw 9 innings, as the Giants prevailed, 5-2.

Brown served up 10 hits, including a 2-run homer with 2 out in the sixth, when the score was just 3-2. The home run was the first he had surrendered to the Giants when he and Mathewson both started since July 23, 1904. It came in their 18th such start since then.

Mathewson gave up no homers, but did allow 3 doubles and 8 singles, for 11 total hits.

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That victory made Mathewson 12-5 for the young season. The loss dropped Brown to 3-6.

By the end of the year, Mathewson was 23-12 and the Giants won their second straight pennant. Brown didn't make to the end of the season.

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RELIEF WORK

On July 13, 4 days after losing to Mathewson, Brown pitched 3 scoreless innings in relief against Boston and earned a victory when the Cubs rallied to win, 5-4.

Two days after that, in the finale of the 4-game series, left hander Jim Moroney made only his second start for the Cubs, and his first since May 21. He couldn't make it out of the first inning.

After a game-opening strikeout, a triple and a sacrifice fly gave the Braves a quick lead. A walk, a hit batsman and 2 more walks made the score 2-0. In came Brown, to end the inning.

He then soldiered through 9 more innings, in which he allowed 5 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8.

The first 3 runs came in the fifth, wiping out the Cubs' 5-4 lead. The 2 other runs came in the eighth, after the Cubs had gone back in front, 7-5.

But Brown blanked Boston for the next 2 innings, then drew a walk when he came to the plate to start the bottom of 10th. As Sheckard struck out, Brown stole second, then he gave way to a pinch runner. After an out, Tinker singled, the runner scored and the Cubs won, 8-7.

The steal was just the seventh by Brown in his 10 big league seasons. It was his fifth in 9 years with the Cubs.

He had 8 strikeouts in the game, the most he ever would have in 149 relief outings. The 8 were only 2 below his career high in any game, set in 10 innings in 1907 and matched in 9 innings in 1910.

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AUTO AND CANE

Whether on the 10th-inningb steal or otherwise, Brown had injured his knee and did not pitch at all during the 11 games that completed the Cubs' 19-game home stand.

As they headed on the road for 18 games, beginning Friday, July 26, at New York, Sanborn wrote in the Tribune:

"The team will be without the services and lion heart of Mordecai Brown for this entire trip, it is feared. Brownie was barely able to get over to the ball park with the aid of an auto and a cane on Wednesday to bid the Cubs good-bye, and his doctor holds out little hope that his injured knee will be strong enough to let him work before the team returns home."

The Cubs won the first 3 games at the Polo Grounds before falling to Mathewson in the series finale. Then they won 7 in a row, lost twice at Philadelphia and won 5 more to conclude a 15-3 trip that cut in half their deficit in the standings, to 6 games from 12.

After returning home, they took 2 out of 3 from the Giants, beating Mathewson in the rubber game, and by Aug. 22 the Cubs were just 4 games behind New York.

But they went only 16-21 after that and wound up third, 11.5 games to the rear.

And they did it without Brown, who never pitched again after his heroics on July 15. That had been the Cubs' 76th game, exactly half of the 152 they wound up playing. Their final record was 91-59-6. The Giants were 103-48-3; the second-place Pirates, 93-58-1.

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The Cubs' season ended on Oct. 6. Six days later, the Cubs handed Brown his release, after 9 seasons in which he compiled a record of 186-83, with a 1.75 earned run average. He completed 204 of 237 starts, including 48 shutouts. He finished 91 games and saved 48.

His ERA+ was 156. His WHIP was 0.992. He averaged 4 strikeouts and 1.7 walks per 9 innings, while throwing 2,280.2 innings, an average of 253.1 per year.

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'CLOUD OF GLOOM'

Brown's release was announced shortly after the Cubs had posted a thrilling, 10-inning victory over the host White Sox in the City Series.

"President [Charles] Murphy of the Cubs projected the only cloud of gloom in the horizon of the west side rooters last night by serving notice of release on Mordecai Brown, the lion hearted war horse, who good right arm has won so many honors for Chicago since he came here from St. Louis in 1904," the Tribune's Handy Andy reported.

"The official notice added that Brownie was sentenced to the Cub farm [team] in Louisville.

"The accident to Brown's knee, which put him out of commission just as he was rounding into something like his old form, presaged his release.

"That injury, which was thought to be trivial at the time, proved so serious that it incapacitated the pitcher for the rest of the season, and kept him out of the post-season series.

"There is no chance that this ill timed release will cut the west side idol out of a share in the city series receipts. Even if that were Murphy's purpose, the Cub players would foil it by including their veteran pal in the cutting up of the melon."

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The Cubs went on to lose the City Series to the Sox. Through 8 games, each team had 3 wins and there had been 2 ties. The Sox then humiliated the Cubs, 16-0, in the final game.

Each member of the Sox earned $876.58. Brown and his former teammates each received $519.46 -- less than $58 per game!

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SHORT-TIME COLONEL

Brown never played a game for Louisville, a Class AA, American Association team that had gone 66-101 in 1912 while averaging a mere 1,311 fans per game. On Jan. 3, 1913, the Colonels traded Brown to the Cincinnati Reds for Grover Lowdermilk, another right handed pitcher.

Lowdermilk, about 2 weeks short of his 28th birthday, had pitched in exactly 20 big league games: 7, then 11 for the Cardinals, in 1909 and 1911, plus for the Cubs in 1912. Those 2 were 6 innings of relief, in which he allowed 6 runs on 8 hits, on Aug. 24, and a 7-inning complete game on Sept. 28 in which he was battered for 12 runs on 9 hits and 11 walks.

The start came against the Reds, who had obtained him from the Cubs on Dec. 15 in an 8-player swap that also sent Joe Tinker to the Reds.

Lowdermilk won 20 and 18 games for Louisville the next 2 seasons. He later pitched for the Browns, Tigers, Indians, Browns again and White Sox, going 5-5 with a 2.57 ERA for the champion "Black Sox" in 1919.

In 9 big league seasons, Lowdermilk's record was 23-39, with a 3.58 ERA and an ERA+ of 83.

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BROWN AS RED

While Lowdermilk was toiling in Louisville in 1913, Brown went 11-12, with a 2.91 ERA, for Cincinnati, which had made Tinker its player-manager.

Brown, now 36, appeared in 36 games, starting 16 and completing 11. Two of the 11 were against the Giants, both at New York, but neither was against Mathewson. He gave up 14 hits in a 4-2 loss on July 15, then pitched a 7-hitter in a 5-1 win on Aug. 27.

He also lost to the Giants at home on Sept. 21 in the last of 5 relief appearances against them.

Brown faced the Cubs 5 times and came away with 2 complete-game wins, 2 saves and a no decision.

In the first win, at Cincinnati on June 26, he allowed 3 runs on 8 hits. The second, on the Fourth of July at Chicago, was a 6-hit shutout. In between, on June 29, he gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in a 4-inning save.

Mathewson was 25-11 in 1913, leading the league in ERA (2.06), ERA+ (153), WHIP (1.020), walks per 9 innings (0.6) and strikeout/walk ratio (3.48) -- the latter, for the seventh consecutive season.

The Giants rolled to their third straight pennant, as their 101-51-4 record left them 12.5 games ahead of the runnerup Phillies (88-63-8) and 13.5 in front of the third-place Cubs (88-65-2).

The Reds (64-89-3) languished 37.5 games to the rear, in seventh place, ahead only of the woeful Cardinals (51-99-3).

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TERRIER AND TIP-TOP

Cincinnati would tumble to last place in 1914, at 60-94-3, ending up 34.5 games out of first and 9 out of seventh, occupied by the Pirates. But neither Brown nor Tinker would be a part of the team.

Both were among a slew of players who jumped to the new Federal League, Brown to the St. Louis Terriers and Tinker to the Chicago Chi-Feds. Both also were their team's manager.

Tinker had far more success, as Chicago wound up second, just 1.5 games behind the champion Indianapolis Hoosiers.

St. Louis, after getting off to a 10-2 start, when 8-18 in May and 8-20 in June, which ended with the Terriers in last, 12.5 games out of first.

After a loss on Aug. 21, they still were 12.5 back, in seventh. That's when Brown was shipped to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops.

At the time, he was 12-8, with a 3.30 ERA. He went 2-5, 4.19 in 9 games for Brooklyn to end the year at 14-13, 3.52.

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The Tip-Tops had been in fourth place, at 54-51-2, on the day they obtained Brown and were 58-57-2 on Sept. 2 when Brown made his first debut for them. They were 19-20-1 after that and ended up fifth, at 77-77-3.

St. Louis went 12-26-2 after parting ways with Brown and finished last, at 62-89-3.

Mathewson had not joined the exodus to the new league, staying with the Giants. He was 24-13. his 12th straight season with at least 22 wins, but his ERA rose by nearly a run from the previous season, to 3.00 from 2.06. He led the NL in walks per 9 innings and strikeout/walk ratio yet again, but also allowed the most earned runs in the NL, 104, and the most home runs in both leagues: 16, twice as many as he ever had before.

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FADING AND FLOURISHING

Through 15 seasons, Mathewson had pitched 4,528 innings in 596 games -- an average of 302 innings per year 7.2 innings per appearance. All those pitches finally took their toll in 1915.

At age 34. he went 8-14, 3.58, in 27 games, 14 fewer than the year before, and 186 innings, 126 fewer. He reduced his home run count to 9, but that still was more than by any other NL pitcher.

Mathewson's woes were in stark contrast to Brown's resurgence.

He returned to Chicago, signing with the Federal League team, now called the Whales, and managed again by Tinker.

The 38-year-old fashioned a 17-8 record, with a 2.09 ERA. He completed 17 of 25 starts, 3 of them shutouts, and finished 9 of 10 other games, saving 3.

The Whales went 86-66-3 and won the pennant by .001 over St. Louis, Brown's first FL team, which finished 87-67-5. Pittsburgh was third, just half a game behind, at 86-67-3.

The Rebels had led the Terriers by 3 games and the Whales by 3.5 with 15 days to go in the season, but were just 8-7 the rest of the way, including 2-4 in their last 6 games, all against the Whales. Brown pitched 3 scoreless innings in relief to close out the first of the 6 games, then won the third, working around 16 hits and 2 walks to complete an 8-5 victory that lifted the Whales into first place to stay.

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TOMORROW: A fond farewell

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