This one got out of hand quickly. Cleveland scored seven runs in the first three innings and cruised to an 8-1 victory over the Royals at Cleveland Stadium.
Royals starter Chris Zachary retired the first two men he faced in the first inning, but then the roof caved in. Frank Baker hit a ground-rule double, and scored on a Tony Horton single. After Ken Harrelson walked, Duke Sims unloaded a three-run home run.
Although Zachary got through the second inning unscathed, the Indians added three runs in the third. Horton hit a two-run home run, followed by a Harrelson homer to stretch the lead to 7-0. Zachary followed that by walking Sims, and reliever Dave Morehead was called upon to finish the inning. Morehead saved Kansas City from further embarrassment with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief work.
Cleveland pitcher Sam McDowell was tough enough without being handed an early lead. He piled up eight strikeouts in the first three innings and finished the complete game with 14, while walking five and holding Kansas City to three hits.
The Royals’ lone run came in the sixth. Paul Schaal started the inning with a single and took third when Joe Foy singled with one out. Buck Martinez hit a grounder which was booted by Dave Nelson at second base, allowing Schaal to score. But that was it.
The KC run was answered by a Jose Cardenal homer in the bottom of the inning, finishing off the day’s scoring.
As a fun side note, Royals reliever Moe Drabowsky recorded his 1,000th career strikeout in the seventh inning. As Kansas City’s closer/relief ace, Drabowsky would not normally pitch in a game the Royals were losing by seven runs, but he had a specific goal in mind: strike out his friend and former roommate Harrelson for number 1,000. When he realized Harrelson would bat third in the seventh inning, manager Joe Gordon, who had already agreed to this plan, brought Drabowsky in to pitch.
However, after getting a grounder for the first out, Drabowsky got to a 1-2 count on Horton. He threw a fastball down the middle and Horton swung and missed. A bemused Drabowsky did get Harrelson to ground out, but only after home plate umpire Frank Umont stopped play as Harrelson stepped to the plate. Umont had Harrelson autograph the baseball, which was later presented to Drabowsky. Harrelson signed it, “I was next—Hawk.”
With the loss, the Royals dropped to 45-67. They were in fourth place in the AL West, 22 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE196908100.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Sal Fasano (1971), Fernando Cortez (1981), Josh Anderson (1982)