The Royals ended their inaugural season with a four-game winning streak, thanks to a 6-2 win over California at Municipal Stadium.
Both starting pitchers were effective, and the game entered the seventh as a scoreless tie. In fact, California’s Vern Geishert was working on a no-hitter through six innings, with Kansas City’s only baserunner in that span a walk drawn by Royals pitcher Wally Bunker in the third. For his part, Bunker had only allowed two singles through six innings.
After Bunker turned in a perfect seventh inning, Paul Schaal started the seventh with Kansas City’s first hit, a single. Luis Alcaraz reached on a bunt single, and Lou Piniella followed with an infield single to load the bases. Jerry Adair drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly. Bob Oliver hit a grounder to third base, where Winston Llenas fielded it and threw to second. But his throw sailed into the outfield, and two runs scored on the play as Oliver wound up at second. With one out, the Angels intentionally walked Ellie Rodriguez to face Bunker, who singled to right field to score Oliver for a 4-0 lead.
Kansas City added two runs in the eighth thanks to another California error. This time, it was second baseman Sandy Alomar, who booted Schaal’s grounder to start the inning. Jackie Hernandez singled, and Piniella drove in Schaal with a single. Reliever Clyde Wright hit Juan Rios with a pitch to load the bases. Oliver grounded into a double play, but Hernandez scored for a 6-0 lead.
Bunker finally weakened in the ninth. Bill Voss started the inning with a single. Alomar reached on a bunt single; Voss was running on the play and took third base. Jarvis Tatum grounded into a double play, with Voss scoring. Jay Johnstone homered to cut the Kansas City lead to 6-2, but Bunker struck out Roger Repoz to end the game and the season.
The win gave Bunker the team lead with 12, breaking a three-way tie between him, Dick Drago, and Moe Drabowsky. Bunker also gave himself the ERA crown among the starting pitchers, lowering his mark to 3.23 with Roger Nelson’s 3.31 coming in second. Drabowsky had the entire staff’s best number with a 2.94 in 98 innings.
The Royals finished the season with a 69-93 mark, the best mark of the four expansion teams; Seattle finished with 64 wins, while Montreal and San Diego each won 52. Kansas City also had a better record than three established teams: Cleveland, Philadelphia, and the Chicago White Sox. The Royals finished in fourth place in the AL West, one game ahead of the White Sox and 28 behind first-place Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196910020.shtml
Today’s birthday: Greg Pryor (1949)