Emergency starter Renie Martin, making only his second major-league start and on only two days’ rest, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning as he led the Royals to a 4-1 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Scheduled starter Paul Splittorff developed back spasms during pregame warmups. Manager Jim Frey was left with a choice of Martin or Steve Busby, who had only pitched 2 ⅔ innings so far in the 1980 season. Frey went with Martin and hoped for a few good innings. He got exactly that as the righthander, who picked up a win in his first major-league start on May 10 after 30 appearances in relief, limited the Yankees to one hit and two walks, with three strikeouts in six innings.
Martin retired eight straight hitters to start the game, before Bucky Dent struck out but reached first on a wild pitch in the third. Martin walked Willie Randolph but got a groundout to end the inning. New York did not record a hit until Ruppert Jones singled with two outs in the sixth. Martin finished that inning but walked Reggie Jackson to lead off the seventh, at which point Frey turned to reliever Gary Christenson. The new hurler got two groundouts, with Jackson taking second, but Eric Soderholm singled to drive in a run.
However, by that point the Royals held a 4-1 lead after scoring four unearned runs in the third inning. U.L. Washington started that inning with a single. With one out, Frank White put down a bunt, but pitcher Mike Griffin bobbled the ball and both runners were safe. John Wathan singled to load the bases. Darrell Porter hit a sacrifice fly, with two runs scoring on the play when left fielder Bobby Murcer threw wildly to second. Willie Aikens followed with a two-run shot off the facade of the third deck in right field. The inning featured half of the Royals’ six hits on the evening, but with the Yankees’ help, it was more than enough offense for Martin.
Dan Quisenberry recorded his fifth save as he worked around two singles in the eighth and retired the side in order in the ninth.
After the game, Splittorff was sent back to Kansas City, where he was placed in traction for a few days to relieve his back spasms. The Royals called up relief pitcher Jeff Twitty from Omaha for some more depth, while optioning outfielder Bob Detherage to Class AAA.
With the win, the Royals improved to 16-13 on the season, the first time they had been three games over .500 so far in 1980. They were in fourth place in the AL West, but only 1.5 games behind Oakland.
George Brett watch: The third baseman was held out of the lineup as his bruised right heel continued to bother him. Season stats: .269/.372/.522
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA198005130.shtml