A six-run second inning keyed the Royals’ 9-3 romp over the Yankees on a Wednesday night at Royals Stadium.
Kansas City actually trailed 2-0 when they came to bat in the second, after New York tallied single runs in the first two innings. But the home team teed off against Yankees starter Luis Tiant, with all six runs scoring with two outs. John Wathan drew a walk with one out, but after Amos Otis hit a fly ball for the second out, Clint Hurdle reached on an infield single. U L Washington tied the game with a triple, then scored on a Willie Wilson single. Wilson stole second ahead of Frank White’s walk. George Brett capped the inning with a home run, his third of the three-game series.
Although the Yankees answered with another single run in the third, the Royals put the game away with a single run in the fourth and two more in the fifth, all against reliever Ed Figueroa. The fourth-inning run was also courtesy of Brett, who drove in Washington with a single. In the fifth, Willie Aikens led off with a double. Otis followed with a single, but Aikens was thrown out trying to score. Hurdle doubled, with Otis stopping at third. Washington grounded out, with Otis scoring. Wilson drove in the final run with a single.
Royals starter Renie Martin took advantage of the offensive explosion, settling down after those first three innings to pitch a complete game. Martin improved to 7-2 and dropped his ERA to 3.61 as he scattered five hits and three walks, although he only had one strikeout. After Reggie Jackson singled in the third to set up New York’s third run, Martin retired 13 straight. That streak was broken by Bucky Dent’s infield single, but Martin responded with eight straight outs to end the game.
The only sour note for the Royals came in the second. In the top of the inning, Otis misplayed two fly balls, leading to the Yankees scoring a run, although Otis was not charged for an error on either one. That didn’t stop the crowd of 27,234 from booing him. When Otis came to the plate in the bottom of the inning, he answered a second round of boos by tipping his cap.
In a lighter moment involving Otis, the Yankees complained that his back foot was not in the batters’ box. So when he came to the plate in the third, umpire Dave Phillips, the crew chief, had the grounds crew come out and repaint the lines. Although Otis lined out to end the inning, he would pick up that RBI single later in the game.
The Royals improved to 29-20 with the win, picked up a series win, and ended their homestand with a 4-2 mark. As they headed out for a 10-game road trip, they held a three-game lead over Chicago in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 3-5 with the home run, four RBI, and a stolen base to boot. Season stats: .320/.393/.573
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198006040.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Tony Pena (1957), Kurt Stillwell (1965), Jorge Bonifacio (1993)