The Royals were done in by two future Hall of Famers, as they collected just four hits in a 3-1 loss to the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum.
Oakland starter Catfish Hunter, who was inducted in the Hall in 1987, pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing all four hits. He walked two and rather incredibly did not strike out anyone, instead using a steady stream of ground balls to stifle the Royals’ offense. Thirteen of the 22 batters Hunter retired were out on grounders, including two double plays.
Royals starter Wally Bunker was also effective, allowing five hits and a walk over seven innings (with two strikeouts), but not quite good enough to match Hunter. Oakland scored single runs in the first, second, and sixth innings. In the first inning, with one on and one out, Reggie Jackson grounded into a force out. But Jackson stole second and scored on Sal Bando’s double.
A little bit of sloppiness cost Bunker in the second. First, he issued a leadoff walk to Rick Monday. Tommie Reynolds singled. Bunker had Monday picked off at second base, but made a poor throw, and Monday reached third on the error. That enabled him to score on a Larry Haney groundout, although Bunker got the next two batters to limit the damage.
Jackson hurt the Royals again in the sixth, starting the inning with a double and scoring Oakland’s third run after a groundout and Danny Cater’s fly ball. Jackson was actually safe on catcher Ellie Rodriguez’s error, as he failed to catch the throw from right field.
The Royals finally got on the board in the eighth inning. Joe Foy led off with a single, stole second, and score on a Jackie Hernandez single. With one out, Pat Kelly singled. With the tying runs now on base, future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers (inducted in 1992) entered the game. A strikeout and a groundout later and the threat was neutralized. Fingers worked a perfect ninth inning to nail down the save.
The loss dropped the Royals to 27-41 on the season. They were in fifth place in the AL West, 11 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK196906250.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Dick Drago (1945), Bob Shirley (1954), Michael Tucker (1971)