If an expansion team is allowed to have a disappointing loss in its first month of existence, this one might qualify. The Royals, off to a good 15-14 start, faced a miserable Cleveland Indians team that had lost 21 times in 25 games. But the result was an 8-6 loss at home in Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.
Cleveland jumped on Royals starter Jim Rooker for single runs in each of the first two innings. Things could have been worse for Rooker, as the Indians left runners in scoring position in each of those frames.
The Royals battled back to tie the game in the fourth. A single by Lou Piniella with one out and two-out doubles by Hawk Taylor and Chuck Harrison produced two runs. But Cleveland quickly took back control with a five-run fifth inning.
A Zoilo Versalles single and Jose Cardenal double ended Rooker’s evening and also gave Cleveland a 3-2 lead. Reliever Dave Morehead gave up a run-scoring single to Ken Harrelson before Tony Horton blasted a two-run home run. After Morehead walked Richie Scheinblum, reliever Tom Burgmeier entered the game. He finally got the first out of the inning, but two more singles produced another run. Burgmeier eventually ended the inning by getting Cardenal to ground out with the bases loaded, but the Indians held a 7-2 lead.
Kansas City rallied with a three-run inning of their own. Singles by Ellie Rodriguez and Juan Rios started the inning, and Jackie Hernandez followed with a three-run home run. It was one of only four Hernandez would hit all year, but it brought the Royals to within 7-5.
Cleveland added an insurance run when Horton started the eighth inning with a home run, this one off Steve Jones. The Royals had one more comeback attempt, as Bob Oliver walked with two outs in the ninth. He scored on an Ed Kirkpatrick double, but Jim Campanis flied out to center field to end the game.
The loss dropped the Royals to the .500 mark at 15-15. They remained tied for third in the AL West with Chicago; both teams were five games behind Minnesota and Oakland, who were tied for first.
Today’s birthdays: Juan Beniquez (1950), Ryan Bukvich (1978)