Four late runs lifted the Royals to their fifth straight win, a 5-4 triumph over the Texas Rangers on a Sunday night at Arlington Stadium.
Despite several scoring chances in the first four innings, the Royals came to bat in the eighth facing Rangers starter Doc Medich and a 3-1 deficit. With one out, Darrell Porter and Amos Otis singled, the 10th and 11th hits Medich had allowed. Reliever Sparky Lyle took over, but Hal McRae delivered a pinch-hit single for one run. John Wathan followed with a single and the game was tied. Bob Babcock entered the game in relief of Lyle and got the last out.
Babcock seemed on track to give Texas a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth when he got two quick outs to start the top half of the inning. But then U L Washington singled, and George Brett followed with a home run for a 5-3 lead.
Reliever Gary Christenson started on the mound for Kansas City in the bottom of the ninth. But with one out he walked Bump Wills and surrendered a single to Al Oliver. Dan Quisenberry took over and escaped the jam with a little luck and some sterling defense. First, the luck: Rusty Staub hit a drive to deep left field which would have easily scored both runners and tied the game, but instead it bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Oliver had to stop at third and KC still had a 5-4 lead. After an intentional walk to Pat Putnam, the defense kicked in. Jim Norris hit a grounder up the middle, but second baseman Frank White ranged far to his right, grabbing the ball directly behind second. He flipped to Washington for a force at second, and Washington’s throw to first beat Norris by a step to end the game.
Kansas City left seven men on base in the first four innings, although they did get one run in the fourth. With one out, singles by Wathan, Clint Hurdle, and Dave Chalk produced a run. Willie Wilson followed with a single but Washington bounced into an inning-ending double play. Medich followed that with three perfect innings.
Royals starter Larry Gura was tagged for nine hits in seven innings, although all of them were singles. With a little luck, he may have allowed just one run. In the second inning, three singles loaded the bases with one out. Gura got the ground ball he needed, but Chalk’s relay throw to first was wild and two runs scored.
With the win, the Royals improved to 33-20. They held a five-game lead over Chicago in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 3-5 with a home run and a double. Season stats: .333/.401/.589
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TEX/TEX198006080.shtml
1980 baseball news: Across the state, the St. Louis Cardinals made a managerial change. With a league-worst 18-33 record, they fired Ken Boyer between games of a doubleheader in Montreal. Back in St. Louis, owner Gussie Busch held a news conference at his home to announce the new manager: former Royals skipper Whitey Herzog. Reaction in the Royals’ locker room was mostly positive, although Otis, who had had some disagreements with Herzog, said “What’d I think? Nothing. He won’t last long. Put it this way, I wish him all the best, a speedy exit. I wish him well as long as he’s in St. Louis and not in Kansas City.”
Today’s birthdays: Matt Whisenant (1971), Terrance Gore (1991)