For the second time in a week, the Royals and A’s split a doubleheader, with Oakland winning the first game 5-1 before Kansas City prevailed in game two by a 7-5 count.
Bill Butler pitched six innings in game one for the Royals, holding the A’s to one run despite walking six batters and giving up three hits. One of those hits was a Rick Monday home run in the fourth; luckily for Butler it was a solo shot.
Butler walked the bases loaded with two outs in the first but retired Dick Green on a popup. He worked around a leadoff walk and an error in the second, but he did settle down some after that, and left the game with the Royals trailing 1-0.
Relievers Dick Drago and Dave Wickersham did not fare as well. With one out in the seventh, Drago gave up a single to Tommie Reynolds and walked Reggie Jackson. Wickersham entered the game, and after getting one out, allowed an RBI single by Danny Cater and a two-run triple by Green.
Oakland starter Jim Nash cruised through the first six innings, striking out five and allowing just three singles, two of them infield hits. After the Athletics’ three-run seventh, Nash made his one mistake of the game, giving up a solo home run to Lou Piniella, his first in the majors. However, Nash retired the last eight batters as he finished off the complete game five-hitter.
The Kansas City bats woke up in the second game. With one out in the first, facing Oakland starter Catfish Hunter, Mike Fiore singled and Piniella smacked another home run to put the Royals on top 2-0. The home team added two more runs off Hunter in the third with a two-out rally. Piniella started it with a double, followed by doubles from Joe Foy and Ed Kirkpatrick. That finished Hunter’s day, and reliever Ed Sprague finished off the inning with the Royals ahead 4-0.
Royals starter Wally Bunker was not sharp, although he kept Oakland off the board for the first three innings. He walked two and threw a wild pitch in the first and got a double play with the bases loaded to end the third. But the A’s broke through in the fourth with a Cater double and Green single starting the inning. With one out, Dave Duncan doubled to drive in both runners, although Bunker got the next two batters to keep the 4-2 lead.
However, the A’s kept the offense going in the fifth. Reynolds led off with a single and Jackson homered, and just like that the game was tied. When Sal Bando followed by reaching on an error by Foy at shortstop (Foy was normally a third baseman and was playing shortstop for the first time since 1966), Bunker’s day was finished. Reliever Moe Drabowsky retired the first hitter he faced, but allowed a single to Green. When Monday reached on second baseman Juan Rios’ error, the A’s took a 5-4 lead. Drabowsky got out of the inning without further damage, though.
Oakland carried that 5-4 lead into the eighth. Reliever John Wyatt had retired eight straight Royals, but Foy led off with a single. One out later, Chuck Harrison singled. The A’s turned to reliever Lew Krausse, but Royals catcher Hawk Taylor became the day’s hero with a three-run home run to left-center. The blast was Taylor’s first homer in the majors since August 1967 and it gave the Royals a 7-5 lead.
Drabowsky, still in the game, retired the side in order in the ninth to seal the win for Kansas City. The doubleheader drew 31,872 fans to Municipal Stadium, easily the best home crowd the new Royals had seen at Municipal Stadium.
Box score and play-by-play (game one): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196904201.shtml
Box score and play-by-play (game two): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196904202.shtml
Today’s birthday: Dusty Coleman (1987)