George Brett remained on a tear, while Dennis Leonard pitched six scoreless innings as the Royals defeated the Red Sox, 5-1, on a Wednesday night at Fenway Park in Boston.
Brett had four hits, including a double and a triple. Since returning to action on July 10 after an ankle injury he suffered on June 10, Brett was 17 for 29, with a batting line of .585/.636/.862. Throw in the game where he got hurt and the game before it (covering his current nine-game hitting streak), and those numbers improve somehow, to a .600/.650/1.029 line.
Fittingly, Brett scored the first run of the game. He tripled with one out in the fourth against Boston starter Dennis Eckersley. Darrell Porter followed with a double for a 1-0 lead.
Kansas City added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, U L Washington singled with one out but was forced out at second on Willie Wilson’s grounder. Wilson stole second and scored on a Hal McRae single. Porter led off the sixth with a home run to increase the lead to 3-0.
Meanwhile, Leonard was making the pitches he needed to make to keep Boston off the scoreboard. Leonard allowed eight hits in his six innings, but struck out four and didn’t walk anyone. The Red Sox left a runner at second in the first inning, and had men at second and third with one out in the third. But Leonard got Dave Stapleton on a popup and Fred Lynn on a groundout to end the threat. Oddly, that scenario repeated itself in the fifth, and Leonard struck out Stapleton and got Lynn to hit a popup to escape unscathed.
Leonard departed after the sixth, and Boston got on the board against reliever Rawly Eastwick. With one out, Rick Burleson singled and Stapleton doubled. After Lynn walked to load the bases, Burleson scored on Tony Perez’s groundout. Eastwick hit Carlton Fisk with a pitch to load the bases again, and relief ace Dan Quisenberry entered the game. He struck out Carl Yastrzemski to end the inning with the Royals still in front.
Kansas City salted the game away with two runs in the ninth. With one out, Washington singled and stole second. Wilson walked, and reliever Bill Campbell took over for Eckersley. McRae and Brett each collected RBI singles. The inning only ended when Porter hit a fly ball to deep center field and Brett was thrown out trying to tag up and go to second.
Quisenberry retired seven straight to end the game, the last six on ground balls. That earned him his 18th save of the year.
The victory, Kansas City’s fourth straight, meant they had already won the three-game series with the finale still to be played. The Royals improved to 53-34 and held an 11.5-game lead over Texas in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 4-5, run scored, and an RBI. Season stats: .374/.441/.646
1980 news: At the Republican National Convention in Detroit, former president Gerald Ford and candidate Ronald Reagan failed to reach a deal that would have added Ford to the ticket as the vice-presidential nominee. Instead, Reagan turned to the man who had given him the closest race during the primary season, George H.W. Bush. The selection of Bush happened so late at night that many newspapers the next morning had headlines indicating Ford was the selection.
Today’s birthdays: Terry Pendleton (1960), Jorge Vasquez (1978)