This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: May 20

In a terrific pitchers’ duel, the Royals slipped past the Oakland A’s and the American League’s best pitcher to this point in the season, taking a 1-0 win on a Tuesday night at Royals Stadium.

Athletics starter Mike Norris came into the game with a 5-1 record and a sparkling 0.45 ERA for the season. His only loss had come in his previous start, a 1-0 loss to Toronto in 11 innings. This game made 22 straight innings since the A’s had scored a run for Norris.

That happened in part because, on this night, Royals starter Rich Gale was able to match zeroes with Norris. Gale came into the game with a 0-5 mark and unsightly 6.89 ERA. But he held Oakland to five hits and three walks, with five strikeouts, in seven innings. Meanwhile, Norris pitched another complete game, holding the Royals to four hits and one walk, with four strikeouts. 

Gale was able to escape a few jams. In the first, with runners at first and third, he got an inning-ending double play. In the third inning, Oakland had runners at second and third when the inning ended. And in the sixth, the A’s had men at second and third with one out, but a strikeout and a fly ball kept them off the scoreboard.

The unlucky Norris was dominant, as two of Kansas City’s four hits were infield ones. One of those was a single by U.L. Washington with one out in the fourth. After he took second on a groundout, he scored when Willie Aikens punched a single into left field.

Oakland’s final frustration came in the eighth, when Rickey Henderson led off with a double. That finished Gale’s evening. Reliever Gary Christenson came in to face Dwayne Murphy, who hit a looping fly ball into right field. Outfielder Clint Hurdle sprinted in and made a shoestring catch. That kept the A’s from scoring one run (and with Murphy’s speed, possibly two if the ball had rolled far away from Hurdle) and the Royals remained in front. Christenson got the next two outs and Dan Quisenberry earned his seventh save with a perfect ninth inning. 

The win was Kansas City’s fourth in a row, the longest such streak of the season for them so far. They improved to 20-15 and remained in second place in the AL West, one game behind Chicago.

George Brett watch: 0-3. Season stats: .264/.360/.494

Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198005200.shtml

Today’s birthday: Steve Stemle (1977)

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