This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: May 12

A six-run ninth inning turned a comfortable lead into a laugher, as the Royals thrashed the Yankees by a 12-3 count on Monday night at Yankee Stadium in New York.

Kansas City took a 2-0 lead in the first. Facing Yankees starter Luis Tiant, the first three hitters–Willie Wilson, Frank White, and Hal McRae–all singled, with McRae picking up an RBI. Darrell Porter grounded into a forceout, with White scoring the second run.

The Royals increased the lead in the fifth, as U.L. Washington worked Tiant for a leadoff walk. Wilson singled and White advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. After McRae walked to load the bases, Porter singled to center, good for two runs and a 4-0 lead. Reliever Ron Davis took over, but a passed ball moved the runners to second and third. McRae scored on a Willie Aikens sacrifice fly, and John Wathan scored Porter with an infield single.

Royals starter Larry Gura, a former Yankee, cruised through the first five innings, allowing just three hits and one walk. But after he retired the first two hitters in the sixth, the next four New York batters hit singles. Dennis Werth picked up one RBI and Rick Cerone followed with a two-run single. The Royals turned the game over to Marty Pattin, who got a groundout to end the inning with the 6-3 lead still intact.

Kansas City then blew the game open with six runs in the ninth, all off Yankees reliever Rich Gossage. With one out, Wilson reached on an error and stole second. White doubled, although Wilson stopped at third. Gossage intentionally walked George Brett to load the bases. Porter reached on an infield single, with one run scoring. Aikens doubled to drive in two runs. Wathan reached on a single. Pete LaCock hit a sacrifice fly for another run, and Dave Chalk capped the scoring with an RBI double.

Pattin picked up his second save of the year as he retired 10 straight hitters to close out the game.

It wasn’t all good news for the Royals. In the seventh inning, McRae was hit on the foot by a pitch. Porter hit a line drive into right field, but McRae pulled up lame between first and second with a pulled calf muscle and was forced out at second. McRae was placed on the disabled list and outfielder Rusty Torres was called up from Omaha. 

With the win, the Royals improved to 15-13 on the season. They were in fourth place in the AL West but just 2.5 games behind Oakland.

George Brett watch: Limited to one pinch-hitting appearance with his bruised right heel, Brett drew an intentional walk in the ninth. Season stats: .269/.372/.522

1980 news alert: The town of Sedalia, Missouri, was hit by an EF-3 tornado shortly after 5 pm, part of an outbreak that saw several twisters hit the state. Although there were no fatalities, 23 people were injured and damage was estimated to be at least $45 million. The tornado hit the northwestern edge of the city and flattened a mobile home park, several businesses, and a drive-in theatre.

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Bob Heise (1947), Travis Dawkins (1979)

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