The Royals started their longest homestand of the season (12 games) with a crazy 9-8 win over Minnesota, a game that featured two comebacks and a walkoff single from Hawk Taylor.
Minnesota wasted no time grabbing the lead. Ted Uhlaender led off with a grounder which was booted by shortstop Jackie Hernandez. After Cesar Tovar singled, Tony Oliva homered off Dick Drago. Three batters in and the Twins had a 3-0 lead.
Hernandez atoned for his error in the second, lacing a double to left to score Ellie Rodriguez, who had doubled with two outs.
However, the Twins answered with three runs in the third inning. With one out, Tovar singled and Oliva walked. With two outs, Rich Reese hit Minnesota’s second three-run homer of the game, stretching the lead to 6-1.
Things did not look good for the Royals, especially after Twins starter Dick Woodson worked out of trouble in the third and fourth innings. But Kansas City kept generating chances, and took advantage of an odd play in the fifth. Joe Foy started the inning with a walk, and Pat Kelly followed with a single. With one out, Bob Oliver grounded out to first, with both runners advancing. Lou Piniella was at the plate when Woodson uncorked a wild pitch, which bounced off the backstop and toward the Twins’ third-base dugout. Catcher John Roseboro had trouble finding the ball, and both runners scored on one wild pitch.
Kansas City tied the score in the sixth, as Hernandez doubled with one out. With two outs, Foy delivered an RBI single. Relief pitcher Joe Grzenda walked Kelly, and relief pitcher Bob Miller surrendered an RBI single to Ed Kirkpatrick, followed by Oliver’s RBI double.
After battling back to tie the game, the Royals nearly gave back the lead in the seventh. Relief pitcher Don O’Riley retired Harmon Killebrew and Reese with the bases loaded to keep the game tied, but wasn’t as fortunate in the eighth. In that inning, Graig Nettles led off with a single and stole second before Roseboro walked. A forceout at second left runners at first and third. Pitcher Ron Perranoski put down a successful squeeze bunt to score Nettles, and Uhlaender doubled to put the Twins back in front, 8-6.
The Royals got one run back in the bottom of the eighth, with a Foy single and Taylor walk coming ahead of Oliver’s two-out single.
Jerry Adair led off the Royals’ half of the ninth with a single, and Rodriguez followed with a walk. But Perranoski got the next two batters. Foy came through with his third hit of the day, tying the score. Perranoski hit Kelly with a pitch, loading the bases. And Taylor ended the game by rifling a single to left off new pitcher Al Worthington.
With the win, the Royals improved to 28-42 on the season. They had knocked the Twins out of first place and were now 11.5 games out of first, behind the Oakland A’s.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196906270.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Joe Zdeb (1953), Jeff Conine (1966), Andy Larkin (1974), Abraham Almonte (1989)