What looked like an easy win turned a little too interesting in the late innings. Luckily for the Royals, they had Dan Quisenberry on their side. The submariner picked up his 17th save as he finished off Kansas City’s 8-4 win over the Orioles at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
Royals starter Paul Splittorff had pitched well through the first seven innings. He held the Orioles to two runs on six hits and a walk through those innings, while picking up four strikeouts. The offense had backed him up, and Kansas City held an 8-2 lead as the bottom of the eighth began. But Al Bumbry led off with a single, and with one out, Mark Corey homered. Reliever Rawly Eastwick took over, but Ken Singleton greeted him with a single. With two outs, Lee May walked, and the Royals turned the game over to Quisenberry. The closer got Doug DeCinces to ground into a forceout, ending the threat. John Lowenstein led off the ninth with a single, but a double play and a fly ball later and the Royals were enjoying another win.
Offensively, the Royals collected 17 hits, as every starter picked up at least one. Leadoff man Willie Wilson had a big game, going 3-6 and scoring four runs. Wilson helped the Royals get on the board first, leading off the game with a single off Scott McGregor. Two groundouts moved Wilson to third, and he scored on an Amos Otis single.
The Orioles tied the score in the third, as DeCinces led off with a walk, took second on a bunt, and scored on a Rich Dauer single. Baltimore then took a 2-1 lead in the fourth as May homered with one out.
But the Royals, who had seven hits in the first four innings, finally took full advantage of a scoring chance in the fifth. Wilson reached on an error by shortstop Mark Belanger with one out. U L Washington followed with his fourth home run of the year. George Brett singled. With two outs, catcher Rick Dempsey tried a pickoff throw to first, but it sailed in to right field and Brett reached second. Hal McRae doubled to score Brett. McGregor intentionally walked John Wathan, but Willie Aikens foiled that strategy with a run-scoring single, upping the Royals’ lead to 5-2.
Kansas City then added two more runs in the sixth. Reliever Dave Ford had ended that fifth inning with a popup, but with one out in the sixth, Wilson tripled. He scored on Washington’s infield single; Washington reached second on Belanger’s throwing error. It was the first time since 1974 that Belanger had committed two errors in one game. Ford intentionally walked Brett, who was forced out at second on an Otis grounder. But Otis stole second, and after McRae walked to load the bases, Wathan drove in two runs with a single.
A two-out rally in the seventh gave the Royals one last run. Singles by Wilson, Washington, and Brett increased KC’s advantage to 8-2. That seemed like plenty for Splittorff, although as it turned out he needed some help from the bullpen to finish out the game.
With the victory, the Royals earned a series win. They also improved to 51-34 and opened up a 10.5-game lead in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 2-4 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Season stats: .360/.429/.630.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198007140.shtml
Today’s birthdays: Juan Rios (1942), J.C. Gutierrez (1983)