Behind John Wathan’s four hits and a strong effort from starting pitcher Paul Splittorff, the Royals cruised to a 7-2 win over Toronto on a pleasant Tuesday evening at Royals Stadium.
Wathan got Kansas City on the board in the second inning. Hal McRae got the Royals’ first hit, a leadoff double off Toronto starter Paul Mirabella. After Willie Aikens drew a walk, Wathan lined a double to left field, driving in McRae. Dave Chalk grounded out, with Aikens scoring, and Bob Detherage singled to bring in Wathan for a 3-0 lead.
The Royals added to the lead in the sixth, as Aikens doubled with one out and scored on a Wathan single. And after Toronto finally broke through with two runs in the eighth, Wathan helped salt the game away in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, McRae singled and Aikens walked. Wathan singled to drive in McRae again. Chalk and Steve Braun each followed with RBI singles for the final 7-2 margin.
Wathan’s battery mate, Splittorff, was too much for the Blue Jays to handle. Through the first seven innings, he held Toronto to three hits (all singles) and no walks, although he only had one strikeout. The only inning he had anything resembling trouble was the fourth, when Otto Velez reached second with two outs, as he picked up an infield single and advanced to second on George Brett’s throwing error. Splittorff then picked up his one strikeout, getting Roy Howell to end the threat.
The Blue Jays more than doubled their hit total in the eighth, though. With one out, a Damaso Garcia single and Danny Ainge double set up a scoring opportunity. Bob Davis grounded out, with one run scoring, and Alfredo Griffin’s single cut the Royals’ lead to 4-2. Another single brought former Royal John Mayberry to the plate representing the lead run, but the big slugger hit a line drive back to the mound and the inning was over. Marty Pattin worked around a two-out error in the ninth to close out the game.
The win evened Kansas City’s record at 6-6. They were in fifth place in the AL West, but only 2.5 games behind Oakland.
George Brett watch: 0-4 with an error. Even MVPs can have a bad game. Season stats: .209/.333/.442. This was the low point for Brett’s batting average in 1980.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198004220.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Steve Jones (1941), Bill Paschall (1954), Andres Machado (1993)