Minnesota won more than a ballgame. By defeating the Royals 4-3 at Municipal Stadium, the Twins clinched the first-ever AL West division title.
Kansas City didn’t make it easy for the Twins, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth before Al Worthington got the final out. Minnesota starter Bob Miller was on the mound as the ninth began, having held the Royals to five hits through eight innings. But Ed Kirkpatrick singled and scored on Lou Piniella’s double to start the inning. Worthington entered the game, retired one man, and walked Jerry Adair to put the tying runs on base. Buck Martinez singled to right field, scoring Piniella. But Scott Northey, running for Adair, rounded second too aggressively and was thrown out when the throw came in to second. Paul Schaal grounded out to first, and the Twins had the title.
Kirkpatrick drove in the game’s first run, with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. That followed singles by Pat Kelly and Mike Fiore. But Minnesota tied the score in the fourth when Harmon Killebrew hit his major league-best 47th home run. Bob Allison doubled, and two fly balls brought him home for a 2-1 lead.
Minnesota added two RBI singles from Cesar Tovar, one in the fifth and another which proved to be the game-winner in the top of the ninth.
Royals starter Jim Rooker saw his record drop to 4-15 on the season despite a 3.75 ERA. In this game, he allowed seven hits in eight innings, while striking out five and walking three.
The loss dropped the Royals to 64-89. They also fell into fifth place in the AL West, a half-game behind the Chicago White Sox. They were 28 games behind Minnesota overall.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196909220.shtml