The Royals and Tigers split a Labor Day doubleheader at Municipal Stadium, with both games featuring plenty of late-inning drama. Detroit scored two runs in the 10th to win the first game, 5-4, but Kansas City scored runs in the eighth and ninth for a 3-2 walkoff win in the second game.
Detroit’s winning rally in the first game came at the expense of Royals starter Jim Rooker, who had allowed eight hits and three walks through nine innings. Willie Horton led off with a single, and scored on Ike Brown’s triple with one out. Jim Price then hit a sacrifice fly for a 5-3 lead.
That last run was big, as the Royals fought back in the bottom of the 10th. With one out, Ed Kirkpatrick and Lou Piniella collected consecutive singles. But relief pitcher Tom Timmermann, in his second inning of work, got Joe Foy on a sacrifice fly and struck out Jerry Adair to end the game.
After Detroit scored one run in the first inning, as Al Kaline drove in Jim Northrup with a single, Kansas City took the lead in the second. With two outs, Detroit starter Mike Kilkenny walked Jackie Hernandez. Rooker followed with a home run, his fourth of the year, for a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers scored two big unearned runs in the fifth. With one out, Northrup reached when right fielder Pat Kelly dropped a fly ball. Rooker retired Kaline and should have been out of the inning, but Horton homered to put Detroit back in front.
However, the Tigers returned the favor in the eighth. Piniella led off with a single and stole second, but the throw from catcher Price sailed into center field. Piniella took third and scored on Foy’s fly ball to tie the game at 3-3, where it stayed until the 10th.
In the second game, the Royals entered the eighth inning trailing 2-1, although they had collected six walks from Tiger starter John Hiller. Kansas City’s lack of run-scoring was due to only having three hits in the first seven innings, as well as Detroit turning three double plays in that time. But Luis Alcaraz led off with a single. Joe Keough bunted him to second, and Alcaraz took third on a groundout. Foy tied the game with a clutch single into right field.
In the ninth, with reliever Pat Dobson on the mound, Moe Drabowsky came to the plate with two outs and no one on. He hit a fly ball into short left field, and when it dropped and Horton misplayed it, he reached second base. After a walk, Alcaraz singled off shortstop Tom Tresh’s glove, and Drabowsky scampered home with the winning run.
Kansas City’s first run came in the fifth inning, tying the game after Horton homered in the top half of the inning. Ellie Rodriguez led off with a walk, but was forced out at second on Paul Schaal’s grounder. Bob Oliver walked and Wally Bunker attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Schaal was forced out at third. Hernandez rescued the inning with an RBI single.
Detroit took the lead again in the seventh, as Norm Cash led off with a single and stole second. He scored when Bill Freehan singled to right; the throw home beat Cash but Rodriguez couldn’t hang on. When KC wasted Schaal’s leadoff double in the bottom of the inning, things looked grim for the home team, but the Royals were able to manufacture the tying and winning runs.
The split left the Royals with a 53-79 record. They were in fourth place in the AL West, 27 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play (game one): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196909011.shtml
Box score and play-by-play (game two): https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196909012.shtml