New acquisition Willie Aikens picked a great time to get his first hit as a Royal. His seventh-inning single keyed Kansas City’s 3-2 win over Detroit on a blustery Sunday afternoon at Royals Stadium.
The Royals were clinging to a 1-0 lead when U.L. Washington led off the seventh with a walk from Tigers starter Dave Rozema. Willie Wilson singled to move Washington to second. But Frank White flied out to center, and George Brett grounded out to first, moving the runners up 90 feet. The Tigers elected to walk Hal McRae intentionally, giving up the platoon advantage. Aikens, who had started the year with an 0-13 skid after the Royals acquired him in a trade with California to beef up the lineup, lined a 2-1 pitch into center field, driving in two runs and increasing the KC lead to 3-0. Although Aikens was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double, he was able to leave the field as a hero.
The other hero of the game for the Royals was starter Paul Splittorff, who had battled a sore left arm during spring training but showed little ill effects in his first start of the regular season. Splittorff scattered six hits over his 6 ⅓ innings, walking two and striking out one. He did get a little help from his defense, as right fielder Clint Hurdle threw out Lynn Jones at home to end the first inning, the Tigers had two runners thrown out on the bases in the third, and the Royals turned a double play to end the fourth.
The Royals also turned a double play to end the seventh, this time behind Dan Quisenberry, who entered the game with two runners on and got Richie Hebner to ground into the twin-killing and keep the lead at 1-0.
After working a scoreless eighth, Quisenberry wasn’t as fortunate in the ninth. With one out, Lance Parrish singled. And with two outs, Champ Summers homered to cut the lead to 3-2. Gary Christenson entered in relief of Quisenberry and surrendered a double to Hebner, but retired Rick Peters on a fly ball to end the game and earn his first major-league save.
With the win, the Royals took the first series of the season by a 3-1 count.
George Brett watch: 0-3, BB. Season stats: .286/.375/.286
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198004130.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Jose Diaz (1980), Lorenzo Cain (1986)