Willie Aikens had a part in all three runs, while Paul Splittorff and Dan Quisenberry held down the Detroit offense as the Royals returned from the All-Star break with a 3-2 win on a scorching Thursday night at Royals Stadium.
Despite the 105° temperature at game time, Splittorff scattered seven hits over the first seven innings, while striking out five and walking none. When the Tigers’ leadoff hitter, Jim Lentine, led off the eighth with a single, Quisenberry took over and, although he allowed a one-out single, retired the last five hitters in order to pick up his 16th save.
After Detroit scored in the second inning on a Lance Parrish double and John Wockenfuss single, Aikens led the Royals to two runs in the bottom of the inning. Facing Tigers starter Milt Wilcox, Darrell Porter led off with a single and scored on Aikens’ double. After Amos Otis bunted Aikens to third, Clint Hurdle grounded out with Aikens scoring to give KC a 2-1 lead.
Detroit tied the score in the fourth, as Al Cowens led off with a single. Wockenfuss singled, moving Cowens to third. Richie Hebner’s sacrifice fly knotted the score at 2-2.
The score remained there until, with two outs in the sixth, Aikens blasted his 10th home run of the season. Splittorff preserved the lead with a perfect seventh inning before giving way to Quisenberry.
With the win, the Royals improved to 48-33 on the season, giving them a 96-win pace at the midpoint of the schedule. They held a 9.5-game lead on second-place Chicago in the AL West.
George Brett watch: Returning to the lineup after missing 26 games with an ankle injury, Brett went 2-4 with a double. Season stats: .341/.409/.613
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198007100.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Hal McRae (1945), Johnny Giavotella (1987), Scott Alexander (1989), Will Smith (1989)