In the first game of a three-game series that certainly seemed like a playoff preview, the Royals trounced the Yankees 6-1 during a drizzly Friday night at Royals Stadium.
With the Royals up 11 games in the AL West and New York holding an 8.5-game lead in the AL East, it looked like the two teams were heading for their fourth ALCS meeting in five years. These three games were the last scheduled meetings between the two for the regular season. The Royals had already won six of the previous nine games against New York but, of course, were more eager to prove they could beat the Yankees in the postseason.
The second-largest crowd of the season, 40,039 people, filled Royals Stadium to the brim and went home happy despite the rain, or maybe a little bit happy for it during the drought-stricken summer, but mostly thanks to Rich Gale and Clint Hurdle.
Gale held the Yankees to four hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two as his ERA dropped to 4.05. New York’s lone run came on Reggie Jackson’s 27th home run of the season, in the sixth inning.
By then, the Royals had a 4-0 lead. Hurdle put the first two runs on the board with an inside-the-park home run in the second. John Wathan singled off Luis Tiant with two outs in the inning, and Hurdle hit a line drive to deep right field. New York’s Oscar Gamble leaped for it but missed, and the ball bounded off the wall back towards center field. Hurdle scampered around the bases and scored standing up.
U L Washington led off the third with a double, and scored when Hal McRae singled with one out for a 3-0 lead. McRae singled with two outs in the fifth and scored on a George Brett triple.
After Jackson’s home run in the sixth, the Royals put the game away with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Willie Aikens started the rally with a double. Wathan singled with Aikens stopping at third. Hurdle singled to drive in both runners. Although reliever Ron Davis took over for Tiant and shut down the rally, the game was all but decided. Gale handed things over to reliever Marty Pattin, who closed it out with two scoreless innings.
With the win, the Royals moved to 59-37. They maintained their 11-game lead in the AL West as well.
George Brett watch: 1-3 with a walk and an RBI. Season stats: .379/.443/.655
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198007250.shtml
1980 news: Another now-classic comedy hit the movie screens, as Caddyshack was released to more than 650 theaters. Although it received a mixed critical reception, the movie, starring Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Rodney Dangerfield, has become one of the most-loved sports movies and comedies of all time. Also, it taught me everything I know about dealing with rodents in my yard.
Today’s birthdays: None