This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: May 9

George Brett’s return to the lineup was a welcome sight for the Royals, and it turned out to be absolutely necessary as they picked up a 6-5 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston.

Since suffering a bruised heel on April 25, Brett had made one start and two pinch-hitting appearances. Kansas City had gone just 4-6 after that April 25 game. But the third baseman came up big in this one with a third-inning triple that gave the Royals the lead for good.

With the score tied 1-1 entering the third inning, Frank White led off with a single and stole second before U.L. Washington drew a walk from Red Sox starter Bob Stanley. But two outs later, the Royals still had two men on and hadn’t scored. Brett smacked a line drive to the deepest part of Fenway’s center field. Two runs scored as Brett pulled into third.

The Royals expanded the lead in the fifth, as Hal McRae led off with a double. He reached third as Brett grounded out and scored on Darrell Porter’s sacrifice fly.

Although Boston scored one run in the bottom of the fifth, the Royals came back with more offense in the sixth. John Wathan led off with a single and reached third when White singled with one out. But when Washington hit a grounder to shortstop, Wathan was thrown out trying to score. Willie Wilson singled to score White, and when catcher Dave Rader couldn’t handle the throw home, Washington took third and Wilson raced to second. The Red Sox walked McRae intentionally, then asked reliever Tom Burgmeier to get Brett out and end the inning. Instead, Brett patiently worked a walk to force in a run.

The 6-2 lead seemed comfortable with Dennis Leonard on the mound for Kansas City. The righthander had allowed seven hits through six innings but seemed to tire quickly in the seventh. Dwight Evans led off with a home run before Rader slammed a double off the Green Monster. The Royals summoned Dan Quisenberry from the bullpen, but the normally reliable relief ace also struggled. Jerry Remy singled before a force out scored Rader. Carl Yastrzemski singled and Jim Rice reached on an error by Brett, which allowed Rick Burleson to score to pull Boston within 6-5.

But Quisenberry got two more grounders to escape the inning, then worked around a walk and single in the eighth and another single (this one by Rice, which was the 1,000th hit of his career) in the ninth to pick up his fourth save of the season.

The win was Kansas City’s first in Boston since July 30, 1978, and it moved their record to 13-12 on the season. They were in fourth place in the AL West, although they were only two games behind Oakland.

George Brett watch: 1-4 with a walk and 3 RBIs. Season stats: .254/.362/.542.

1980 news alert: The summer movie season kicked off with the release of Friday the 13th. It is considered the first independent film to secure distribution from a major studio, and of course became a box office success (earning almost $6 million that first weekend) that spawned many sequels. The studio might have waited until June 13th, an actual Friday, to release the movie, but (as we will see) there were a few other big movies coming out before then.

Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS198005090.shtml

Today’s birthdays: Steve Hammond (1957), Jimmy Serrano (1976)

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