The Royals snapped their six-game losing streak and went into the All-Star break in style, sweeping a doubleheader from the White Sox at White Sox Park in Chicago.
It took a three-run outburst in the eighth inning of the first game to banish the losing streak. That came immediately after the White Sox took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Chicago reliever Dan Osinski had pitched a perfect seventh inning but walked Ed Kirkpatrick to start the eighth. Buck Martinez, pinch-hitting, came through with a double to tie the score. While Joe Keough entered the game to pinch-run, the White Sox summoned relief ace Wilbur Wood from the bullpen. Keough stole third and scored when Ellie Rodriguez singled with one out. Rodriguez stole second and Wood intentionally walked Paul Schaal, then turned the mess over to reliever Gary Bell. Lou Piniella walked to load the bases and Hawk Taylor reached on an infield single, with Rodriguez scored. However, a baserunning misadventure resulted in both Schaal and Piniella being tagged out, ending the inning.
Galen Cisco worked around a one-out single in the eighth, but after he issued a leadoff walk in the ninth, Wally Bunker came on in relief. Bunker, normally a starter, earned his second save of the year by retiring three straight batters.
Kansas City’s three-run eighth wasn’t even their biggest inning of the game. With the score tied at 1-1 after four innings, the Royals came to bat in the fifth with Chicago starter Gary Peters on the mound. Rodriguez and Schaal started the inning with singles. With one out, Taylor, who had driven in the Royals’ first run with a single in the third, belted a three-run home run. Bob Oliver followed with another homer, and the Royals had a 5-1 lead.
Royals starter Jim Rooker was solid through four innings, but the White Sox rallied in their half of the fifth for three runs. Rooker only got two outs in the inning before Don O’Riley got the last out. O’Riley worked a scoreless sixth inning, but he gave way to Moe Drabowsky after a leadoff single in the seventh. But Drabowsky gave up two doubles, enabling the White Sox to take the lead.
A side note about the first game: it was stopped briefly in the seventh inning as word came that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had successfully landed on the moon. The White Sox set off their famous exploding scoreboard before the crowd settled into silence, contemplating the momentous event.
The second game went 11 innings, delaying everyone’s All-Star break a bit. In the end, it was worth it for the Royals, as Oliver delivered the go-ahead single in the top of the inning for a 3-2 win.
After failing to take advantage of two walks and two wild pitches in the first inning, the Royals scored two runs in the second against Chicago starter Joe Horlen. Oliver led off with a double. Jerry Adair’s sacrifice bunt attempt worked out for the Royals when Horlen made a bad throw to first. Adair was safe, and Oliver dashed home, goading first baseman Gail Hopkins into a bad throw. Oliver was safe and Adair reached second. He took third on a groundout. With pitcher Bill Butler at the plate, catcher Don Pavletich tried a pickoff throw but sailed it into left field. Adair trotted home with Kansas City’s second run.
Hopkins helped atone for his error with an RBI single in the third. However, Butler would keep the 2-1 lead into the ninth inning.
Butler nearly ended the game in that ninth inning. He had worked out of trouble several times in the game, but a leadoff walk to Woodie Held was too much to overcome. A sacrifice bunt moved Held to second, and Carlos May singled with two outs to tie the game. Butler got out of the inning, and rather incredibly, pitched a scoreless 10th inning before Oliver’s heroics in the 11th. Dick Drago picked up the save by working around a leadoff single in the 11th, and the Royals went into the break with two wins.
The doubleheader sweep lifted the Royals into third place in the AL West, vaulting them ahead of Seattle and Chicago. However, at 41-55, they were still 18 games behind first-place Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play (game one): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHA/CHA196907201.shtml
Box score and play-by-play (game two): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHA/CHA196907202.shtml
Today’s birthday: Mark Lee (1964)