Royals pitchers issued 14 walks (one shy of a team record) and 12 hits, including three home runs, in an ugly 16-3 loss to the Yankees on a Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Kansas City starter Dennis Leonard continued his early-season struggles, as New York tallied eight runs against him in just 2 ⅔ innings. The Yankees scored one in the first and three more in the second, with a Bucky Dent inside-the-park home run providing two of the runs. But Leonard really struggled in the third, surrendering long home runs to Graig Nettles and Rick Cerone. The last one ended Leonard’s evening. He left the game with a 6.66 ERA and 11 home runs allowed in 48 ⅔ innings.
Reliever Marty Pattin had the best night of any Royals hurler, retiring all four batters he faced. He was followed on the mound by Gary Christenson, who contributed to the incredible walk total by issuing seven free passes in his 2 ⅔ innings. Two of those walks came with the bases loaded. Christenson also allowed six runs, although only two were earned runs following an error in the sixth.
Steve Busby took over for Christenson in that sixth inning and joined the fun with a bases-loaded walk of his own before getting the final out, with the Yankees now holding a 14-2 lead. Busby would allow two more runs in the seventh, although that lowered his ERA to 15.75.
Kansas City’s second-most effective pitcher was not even a pitcher. Utility infielder Jerry Terrell worked a scoreless eighth inning, although he too issued a walk. Terrell had pitched an inning in relief in a blowout loss to the Yankees in 1979, retiring the side on three pitches, all fly balls. Royals manager Jim Frey cracked, “They told me he pitched well against the Yankees, that’s why I sent him in.”
The game actually started out well for the Royals, as Willie Wilson got an inside-the-park home run off Yankees starter Ron Guidry to begin the game. But with the big lead, Guidry settled in, only allowing a home run to Darrell Porter leading off the sixth before turning things over to Ed Figueroa. Kansas City’s final run came in the eighth, as three singles loaded the bases and Bob Detherage grounded out, with Dave Chalk scoring.
The loss dropped the Royals to 16-14 on the season and kept them from sweeping the three-game series. They were in fourth place in the AL West, but still just 1.5 games behind Oakland.
George Brett watch: Still nursing a bruised heel, Brett was held out of the lineup. With a tough lefty on the mound and a travel day coming up, there were good reasons not to risk further aggravation to the injury. Season stats: .269/.372/.522
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA198005140.shtml