The Royals were one out away from victory when the Texas Rangers collected six straight hits, spoiling a pleasant Monday night at Royals Stadium with a 6-3 comeback win.
With a game-time temperature of 79° offering a respite from some of the heat that had affected Kansas City for more than two weeks, Royals starter Paul Splittorff limited Texas to three hits over seven innings. When Rusty Staub led off the eighth with a single, Splittorff turned the game over to Dan Quisenberry with a 2-0 lead. Quisenberry retired three hitters in a row, and then the Royals scored an insurance run in the bottom of the inning.
With Quisenberry on the mound, a Royals win seemed assured. Even after Texas alternated singles and outs by the first four hitters in the ninth, Kansas City was in good shape. Then the roof caved in. Richie Zisk reached on an infield single, a slow roller up the third base line. That scored one run. Staub stepped up and hit a grounder into right field for another run, cutting the KC lead to 3-2. Gary Christenson took over for Quisenberry and for a split-second, it looked like he had succeeded in ending the game. Jim Norris hit a grounder back up the middle that Christenson got a glove on. However, he couldn’t corral it and pinch-runner Mike Hart scored the tying run. Jim Sundberg blooped a single into center field and Texas took a 4-3 lead. The Royals turned to their third pitcher of the inning, Rawly Eastwick, but the results were no better. Tucker Ashford bunted for a hit, scoring another run. Pat Putnam, who had started the inning with a single, delivered another one with a short fly ball into right field. That also scored a run, giving Texas a 6-3 lead. Eastwick finally got the last out of the inning, but Sparky Lyle shut down a stunned Royals team in the bottom of the inning to pick up his seventh save.
Splittorff definitely deserved better after facing the minimum 18 hitters through six innings, with the Rangers’ lone baserunner wiped out on a double play. Texas collected two hits in the seventh, but that inning also ended with a double play.
Texas starter Jon Matlack was also very effective, holding the Royals to five hits in 7 ⅔ innings. Kansas City scratched out a run in the first, as Willie Wilson led off with a single and stole second. Fly balls by U L Washington and Amos Otis brought him around to score.
The Royals did not score again until Willie Aikens homered with two outs in the seventh. The solo shot was the first baseman’s seventh of the season. Kansas City’s run in the eighth inning came on Wilson’s double and Hal McRae’s single with two outs. Bob Babcock took over for Matlack to get the final out, which meant he was credited with the win after the Rangers’ ninth-inning outburst.
The loss dropped the Royals to 37-23 on the season. They maintained a seven-game lead over Chicago in the AL West as the White Sox dropped to .500 with a loss in Cleveland.
George Brett watch: The Royals finally put Brett on the disabled list, retroactive to June 11, with a torn ligament in his right ankle. Kansas City called up infielder German Barranca, who was hitting just .203 at Class AAA Omaha, although he did have 27 stolen bases. Brett’s season stats: .337/.407/.609.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198006160.shtml