In catcher Darrell Porter’s return to the lineup, the Royals jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on for a 5-3 victory over Boston on Sunday afternoon at Royals Stadium.
Porter, who had left the team midway through spring training to enter rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, had pinch-hit Friday night but this was his first start of the season. Serving as the designated hitter as he was still working to get his throwing arm in shape, Porter made an immediate contribution with a triple in his first at-bat, in the first inning. That scored Hal McRae, who had singled with two outs, for a 1-0 lead.
Porter came up big again in the third. U.L. Washington led off the inning with a single and stole second before Red Sox starter Bob Stanley hit Willie Wilson with a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt and strikeout, Porter delivered the big hit of the inning, a single that drove in two runs. The Royals kept the rally going with another hit batter, Willie Aikens, and an RBI single from John Wathan, although Aikens was thrown out at third to end the inning.
Royals starter Dennis Leonard picked up his first win of the season by holding Boston to three runs on seven hits in 6 ⅔ innings, with five strikeouts and two walks. He allowed just three hits through the first four innings before a bit of wildness in the fifth cost him a run. That inning began with a Butch Hobson single before two walks loaded the bases. Leonard recovered to get a double play, but Hobson scored to cut the KC lead to 4-1.
Hobson got to Leonard again in the seventh, slamming a solo home run with one out. After a popup for the second out, Gary Allenson doubled and Jerry Remy singled to cut the lead to 4-3. The Royals turned to relief ace Dan Quisenberry, who got out of the inning without further damage and then pitched the final two innings to earn his third save of the season.
Porter’s return was a big lift for a Royals lineup that was missing two big weapons, Amos Otis (who had been on the disabled list since the end of spring training with a finger injury) and George Brett (who had pinch-hit once and started one game since suffering a bruised heel on April 25). Besides the single and triple, Porter hit two fly balls that were caught on the warning track.
With the win, the Royals salvaged the final game of the three-game set and improved to 11-10 on the season. They were tied with Texas for third in the AL West, 2.5 games behind Oakland.
George Brett watch: Still out of the lineup with that bruised heel. Season stats: .259/.365/.537
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198005040.shtml
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