The Royals kicked off the 1980 season with a lackluster 5-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Royals Stadium. Detroit starter Jack Morris held the Royals to just three hits. He walked three and struck out five. He also retired 17 of the last 18 hitters.
Despite their offensive struggles, the Royals did score the first run of the game. In the third inning, Frank White doubled to lead off. With one out, Willie Wilson reached on an error by Morris. Wilson stole second before Morris walked Hal McRae and George Brett to force in the run. But Morris struck out Willie Aikens and got a groundout from Pete LaCock to end the inning.
Royals starter Dennis Leonard promptly surrendered a home run to Kirk Gibson to start the fourth inning. Gibson again hurt the Royals leading off the sixth, as he tripled on a ball that escaped LaCock, who was normally a first baseman or right fielder but was playing left field in place of the injured Amos Otis. Aikens committed an error on Steve Kemp’s grounder and Detroit took a 2-1 lead. A Richie Hebner triple and Jason Thompson single increased the Tiger advantage to 4-1.
The game, a Thursday night affair, was played before a less-than-capacity crowd of 34,901. The Royals had announced the day before that they had only sold 22,000 tickets; a pleasant evening (first-pitch temperature was 65°) apparently created some last-minute demand for tickets.
George Brett watch: 0-3 with a walk. Season stats: .000/.250/.000
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198004100.shtml