It was a rough night for the Royals’ bullpen, which got smacked around for seven runs in five innings as California downed Kansas City 9-3 at Municipal Stadium. Four of those runs were unearned after a key error, but the relievers could not stop the bleeding.
The Royals actually held an early 2-0 lead, picking up single runs in the first two innings. With two outs in the first, Lou Piniella singled and Bob Oliver walked. Buck Martinez singled to center, scoring Piniella. In the second inning, Juan Rios led off with a single and Jackie Hernandez reached on an error by second baseman Sandy Alomar. With two outs, Pat Kelly’s single drove in the second run.
Kansas City starter Mike Hedlund pitched three scoreless innings, working around two walks, before allowing two runs in the fourth inning. The rally started when Hedlund issued his third walk, with one out, to Rick Reichardt. A Bill Voss double, Aurelio Rodriguez sacrifice fly, and Jim Spencer single tied the score at 2-2.
Hedlund gave way to reliever Don O’Riley to start the fifth, but Angels pitcher George Brunet led off with a double. A groundout moved him to third, and with two outs, Jim Fregosi walked. Reichardt and Voss each hit RBI singles before the inning ended with the Angels now ahead 4-2.
The Royals got one run back in the fifth, as Kelly led off with a triple and Piniella hit a sacrifice fly. But Kansas City could only manage three hits, all singles, after that.
Dick Drago, who had gotten the final out in the fifth and pitched a perfect sixth inning, started the seventh. Alomar led off with a single and took second on a sacrifice bunt. Fregosi reached on an infield single. Reichardt hit a potential inning-ending double play ball to Hernandez, but the shortstop booted it. A run scored on the play, and the critical error opened the floodgates. Voss singled in a run, and Dave Wickersham took over on the mound. He got the second out, but Spencer doubled to drive in two runs, and Joe Azcue capped the scoring with an RBI single.
The loss dropped the Royals to 31-44, and left them in fifth place in the AL West. They were 11 games behind division co-leaders Minnesota and Oakland.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196907010.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Jamie Walker (1971), Justin Huber (1982)