The American League did not adopt the designated hitter rule until after the 1972 season. So for the first four seasons of the franchise’s existence, the Royals’ pitchers batted for themselves. Very few of them had a day better than Jim Rooker did against the Minnesota Twins. The hurler belted two home runs and drove in three runs. However, he didn’t fare as well on the mound, and the Twins walked away with a 6-5 win at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Royals took the lead early, as Lou Piniella singled with two outs in the first. Bob Oliver followed with a triple for a 1-0 lead.
Rooker had an easy first inning, but the Twins scored three runs off him in the second. Tony Oliva led off with a single and stole second. With two outs, Rooker walked both Frank Quilici and George Mitterwald. Twins pitcher Jim Kaat made him pay with a double, clearing the bases for a 3-1 lead.
But Rooker got some revenge in the third, with a solo home run. And then he held the Twins scoreless in the third and fourth innings. In the top of the fifth, Chuck Harrison singled with one out. Kaat had him picked off first but Rich Reese couldn’t handle the throw. Harrison ended up at second and Rooker hit his second home run of the game to give the Royals a 4-3 lead.
Paul Schaal started the sixth with a single and Piniella tripled to increase the Royals’ lead to 5-3. However, Piniella was thrown out at home trying for an inside-the-park home run.
Kansas City still held a two-run lead as the bottom of the eighth started. Rooker had allowed one bloop single since Kaat’s double in the second. But Reese started the inning with a home run. Harmon Killebrew drew a walk. Joe Foy, normally a third baseman who had been playing second since Schaal’s arrival from Omaha, booted a grounder. Reliever Moe Drabowsky took over, and after a sacrifice bunt, Charlie Manuel hit a blooper into right field to drive in two runs and put the Twins ahead 6-5.
Minnesota reliever Dick Woodson struck out the side in the ninth to earn the save.
The loss dropped the Royals to 12.5 games behind the first-place Twins. With a record of 35-47, Kansas City was in fifth place in the AL West.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN196907070.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Chuck Knoblauch (1968), John Buck (1980), Richard Lovelady (1995)