This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: May 17

After giving up 27 runs in two games, the Royals needed exactly what Larry Gura provided: 10 (yes, 10) innings of well-pitched baseball. Gura’s complete-game effort and just enough offense gave Kansas City a 2-1 win over California in 10 innings on a Saturday night at Royals Stadium.

However, things looked bad at the start for Gura and the Royals. Freddie Patek started the game with a single but was erased on a double play. That loomed large when Carney Lansford slammed a Gura pitch into the left-field bullpen. Thanks to the double play it was only a 1-0 California lead.

Gura allowed two singles after the home run, but then settled in to retire 17 of the next 19 hitters. That stretch ended when Al Cowens doubled with one out in the seventh and Dave Skaggs drew a walk. But Gura calmly struck out Larry Harlow and got Patek on a popup.

The Royals’ lefty, who dropped his ERA to 1.96 in the win, also worked around a leadoff walk in the eighth and a walk, single, and error in the top of the ninth. The big play in that inning was Cowens following the walk with a double play, and Gura once again got Patek out to end the frame.

All this effort by Gura was needed because Angels starter Don Aase was almost as good. He pitched nine innings, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out three (Gura’s line: 10 innings, nine hits, three walks, four strikeouts). Darrell Porter doubled twice in the first four innings but his teammates could not bring him around to score. The Royals also got a leadoff double by Pete LaCock and a walk to Clint Hurdle to start the sixth but got nothing out of it.

After the Hurdle walk, Aase retired 10 straight hitters. That ended when Willie Wilson singled with one out in the ninth. KC now had a speed merchant at first as the tying run, and indeed, Wilson swiped second immediately. He took third on Frank White’s groundout and scored when Aase uncorked a wild pitch. That was big, because Aase got George Brett on a fly ball to end the inning.

The Angels turned the game over to reliever Mark Clear to start the 10th, and Hurdle started the inning with a double. Once again, the Royals struggled to convert this scoring chance. U.L. Washington bunted pinch-runner Rusty Torres to third, and California walked Wilson intentionally. Wilson foiled that strategy with another steal of second, but pinch-hitter Steve Braun hit a grounder to third and Torres was thrown out at home. California issued another free pass, this one to Brett, but Porter ended the game with a single to right.

With the win, the Royals improved to 17-15. They were tied for third place with Texas in the AL West, with both teams just 1.5 games behind Oakland.

George Brett watch: Not a good day for Brett, with an 0-4. Of course, it shows how much respect Brett got that California intentionally walked him in the 10th even though Porter had driven in one run in seven of the last eight games and had 14 total in that stretch. Season stats: .267/.368/.507

Box score and play-by-play:

1980 news alert: Florida had a rough week. On May 9, a large merchant ship was caught in a sudden storm and ran into a support pier for the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Tampa. The span partially collapsed and 35 people died when vehicles (including a Greyhound bus) plummeted into Tampa Bay. And on this date, an all-white jury acquitted four white police officers in the beating death of an African-American motorist after a long police chase (the officers allegedly ran over the man’s motorcycle after the fact to make it look like he had crashed and sustained his injuries that way). The case had actually occurred in Miami but the trial, with future Attorney General Janet Reno as lead prosecutor, was moved to Tampa because of the volatile nature of the case. That fear was confirmed when the verdict kicked off three days of rioting in Miami. Ultimately, 18 people were killed and more than $100 million in property damage was incurred in the riots.

Today’s birthdays: Rick Huisman (1969), Jose Guillen (1976), Carlos Pena (1978)

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