Oddly enough, the Seattle Pilots caught a break when not one, but two of their starting lineup left the game with injuries after the first inning. That’s because their replacements combined for six hits as the Pilots downed the Royals by a 9-3 score at Municipal Stadium.
In the top of the first, Seattle first baseman Mike Hegan reached first on a one-out error. After a walk to Wayne Comer, Tommy Davis doubled to drive in both runners. But somewhere on his trip around the bases, Hegan pulled a hamstring. When the Pilots took the field, Don Mincher was at first.
The Royals immediately got one run back in the bottom of the first. Pat Kelly led off with a single before Seattle starter Gene Brabender hit Joe Foy with a pitch. Mike Fiore hit a drive to deep center field, where Tommy Harper crashed into the fence trying to catch it. Kelly scored, but Foy had been staying close to first base and so he only made it to second on the long single. Harper had to leave the game—the cut over his right eye required five stitches to close. Steve Hovley entered the game in his place, taking over in right field while Comer moved to center. Bob Oliver grounded into a double play to take the wind out of the inning and the score remained 2-1, Seattle.
Mincher put the Pilots back in front by two, leading off the third with a home run. But Lou Piniella answered in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot of his own.
However, Seattle broke the game open in the fifth. Hovley led off with a bunt single before Mincher, a left-handed hitter who was out of the lineup only because the Royals were starting southpaw Bill Butler, launched his second home run of the game.
Mincher continued his big day in the sixth, lining a double to right field with two outs to drive in another run, although Hovley was thrown out trying to score a second run on the play. Still, the Pilots held a 6-2 lead.
Kansas City had not collected a hit after Piniella’s home run, although Brabender had issued two walks. That changed in the seventh. With one out, Kelly and Juan Rios each singled. Fiore walked to load the bases. Oliver hit a sacrifice fly, facing new pitcher Diego Segui. But that would be the only run the Royals would get; in fact, Fiore would be their last baserunner.
Seattle put the game away with a three-run eighth inning. All three runs came against Royals reliever Don O’Riley, although one was unearned as Kansas City committed two errors in the inning. Fittingly, Hovley drove in the last run with a double.
With the loss, the Royals dropped to 35-46 at the halfway point of the season. They were tied for fourth in the AL West with Chicago, 11.5 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196907060.shtml
Today’s birthday: Lance Clemons (1947)