In a bit of an oddity, the Royals and Yankees scored all their runs in the first inning. However, New York’s big inning bested Kansas City’s, giving the visitors a 5-3 win on a Monday night at Royals Stadium.
The game was delayed by rain at the start for an hour and 18 minutes, meaning ABC’s national TV audience was switched to a different game for “Monday Night Baseball.” When the game did begin, the sterling pitching matchup of Paul Splittorff and Ron Guidry failed to meet expectations.
Splittorff didn’t make it out of the first inning. Willie Randolph led off with a walk and took third on Dennis Werth’s single. Bob Watson’s groundout scored Randolph. Eric Soderholm homered for a 3-0 lead. Lou Piniella kept the rally going with a single, and Bobby Brown doubled. Splittorff got a strikeout of Graig Nettles, but Rick Cerone doubled for two runs. After Bucky Dent reached on an infield single, Rich Gale took over for Splittorff and got Randolph out to end the inning.
The Royals wasted little time getting back in the game. Willie Wilson led off with a double and, with one out, George Brett homered. Amos Otis walked, and singles by Darrell Porter and John Wathan brought him around to score. But Guidry struck out Willie Aikens and Rusty Torres to end the inning with the 5-3 lead.
After that first inning, the game did turn into a pitchers’ duel. Guidry wound up working a complete game, as the Royals managed just three hits and a walk in the ensuing eight innings. The lefthander retired 17 of the last 18 hitters he faced, and 10 in a row, to end the game. Meanwhile, Gale made his case for a return to the starting rotation with 7 ⅓ scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, although he did issue four walks as well. After his previous start lasted just ⅔ of an inning and raised his ERA to 6.29, Gale had been demoted to the bullpen, which he admittedly was not happy about.
The other good news for the Royals was the return of Hal McRae to the active roster. McRae had been injured since pulling a calf muscle on May 12. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning of this game and grounded out.
The loss was Kansas City’s second in a row after they won 11 of 14. Still, they had a 27-20 record and a 2.5-game lead over Chicago and Oakland in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 1-4 with that first-inning home run. Season stats: .300/.380/.529
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198006020.shtml