A two-out single in the ninth lifted the Twins to a 2-1 win over Kansas City on an unpleasantly hot Tuesday night at Royals Stadium.
Despite a gametime temperature of 97° after Kansas City reached a daytime high of 101°, Royals starter Paul Splittorff was still on the mound as the ninth inning began. He had held Minnesota to four hits in eight innings, and retired the leadoff hitter in the ninth. But Jose Morales doubled and reached third on a Dave Edwards single. Rick Sofield’s single put the Twins ahead, 2-1, although Splittorff struck out Hosken Powell to end the inning.
The Royals had a good chance to tie the score in their half of the ninth. Twins reliever Doug Corbett had ended an eighth-inning scoring opportunity with a double play ball, but Darrell Porter started the ninth with a single and took second when Powell kicked the ball in right field. Pinch-runner German Barranca took third on Clint Hurdle’s grounder. But Barranca held at third on Willie Aikens’ groundout, and Corbett struck out pinch-hitter Jamie Quirk to end the game.
The loss wasted an excellent performance from Splittorff, who allowed two hits and a run in the first inning as John Castino doubled and Ron Jackson singled, but only gave up two hits between the first and ninth innings. Splittorff struck out three and walked one and his ERA dropped to 3.89, but he still took the loss.
That’s because Twins starter Geoff Zahn was able to scatter eight hits over 7 ⅓ innings. Zahn only struck out two but walked just one batter. He survived Hal McRae’s double leading off the second by getting a groundout and those two strikeouts and got the last out of the third and fourth innings with a runner on second.
The Royals finally tied the game in the sixth. Willie Wilson led off with a single and reached third on a bunt and a groundout. McRae doubled again, scoring Wilson to make the score 1-1. McRae reached third on a passed ball, but Porter made the third out on a popup.
After the game, manager Jim Frey closed the clubhouse for a 15-minute meeting with the team. The loss was the third straight for Kansas City, which had also dropped eight of the last 13 games. Frey would not tell reporters what he said in the meeting, saying only, “I think you know me well enough to know I don’t like to lose.”
Even though the Royals dropped to 44-31 with the loss, they kept their eight-game lead over Chicago in the AL Central.
George Brett watch: On the disabled list with an ankle injury. The Royals made it official, saying that Brett would not play in the All-Star Game on July 8 despite winning the fan voting for a starting spot. Season stats: .337/.407/.609.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198007010.shtml
1980 baseball news: The American League announced its pitching staff for the All-Star Game. Royals lefthander Larry Gura was named to the team, along with New York Yankees starter Tommy John and reliever Rich Gossage, Dave Stieb of Toronto, Steve Stone from Baltimore, former Royal Tom Burgmeier of Boston, Rick Honeycutt from Seattle, and Ed Farmer from Chicago. Meanwhile, the National League starters were announced. With the game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, four players from the home team finished with the highest vote totals at their positions. First baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell, and outfielder Reggie Smith were joined by catcher Johnny Bench from Cincinnati, third baseman Mike Schmidt of Philadelphia, outfielder Dave Parker from Pittsburgh, and outfielder Dave Kingman from Chicago. Lopes was the leading vote-getter for both leagues.