Playing their third doubleheader in five days, the Royals split a doubleheader with the Seattle Pilots, losing the first game 5-3 before winning the second game 6-2 at Sick’s Stadium.
Light-hitting shortstop Ray Oyler (.165/.260/.267 line in 1969) hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie and lead the Pilots to a win. Seattle started the inning with a Jerry McNertney single and sacrifice bunt. The Royals might have had starter Bill Butler walk Oyler to face pitcher Fred Talbot, but obviously weren’t afraid of Oyler, a defensible decision that backfired.
Kansas City had used a three-run third inning to take the lead, only to have Seattle chip away with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game ahead of Oyler’s home run.
In that third inning, the Royals came to bat trailing 1-0. But one-out singles by Ellie Rodriguez, Lou Piniella, and Chuck Harrison tied the score, with Harrison reaching second on the throw home. Seattle walked Bob Oliver intentionally, and Butler helped his own cause with an RBI single. Jackie Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly for the third run.
However, following that third inning, the Royals could muster only four singles as Talbot and Bob Locker combined for six shutout innings.
In the second game, the Royals took advantage of a Seattle error to post another three-run third inning, then followed that up with two more in the sixth to open up a comfortable lead.
Catcher Dennis Paepke started the third inning with a fly ball to center that eluded Tommy Harper. Paepke reached second base on the error, then took third when pitcher Wally Bunker bunted for a single. Hernandez bounced into a forceout at second, with Paepke scoring. Juan Rios tripled to score Hernandez, and Pat Kelly’s groundout scored Rios.
The Royals added one more run in the eighth. Rios and Kelly started the inning with singles off Pilots reliever Jim Bouton. Rios was thrown out at home on Foy’s grounder to third, but Kirkpatrick singled to score Oliver for a 6-0 lead.
The beneficiary of all the offense was Bunker, who was born in Seattle and was pitching in front of almost 40 family members. Bunker obviously enjoyed his return to the Pacific Northwest, pitching a complete game four-hitter. He walked three and struck out six. Seattle’s only runs came in the eighth, when McNertney singled and Harper homered.
With the split, the Royals stood at 26-38. They were in fifth place in the AL West, 10 games behind Oakland.
Box score and play-by-play (game one): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SE1/SE1196906201.shtml
Box score and play-by-play (game two): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SE1/SE1196906202.shtml