For most of the season, a playoff matchup between the Royals and New York Yankees looked like a certainty. But once the calendar turned to August, the Baltimore Orioles added themselves to the mix. The Orioles picked up their 10th straight win, this one a 2-1 squeaker over Kansas City on a Monday night at Royals Stadium.
The Orioles were 7.5 games behind the Yankees when August began. After not losing once in the first 11 days of the month, they had stormed to within 2.5 games of New York after sweeping the Yankees over the weekend. Baltimore took this win thanks to pitcher Dennis Martinez, who managed to survive surrendering eight hits and four walks in a complete-game effort. The Royals left 10 runners on base.
Royals starter Larry Gura arguably outpitched Martinez, as he also tossed a complete game. Gura allowed just six hits and one walk, and struck out four compared to three for Martinez.
Three of the hits Gura gave up came at the start of the game, as Al Bumbry and Rich Dauer singled. Ken Singleton’s bloop double scored Bumbry. Gura worked out of the jam with two strikeouts and a fly ball to keep the deficit at 1-0.
The Royals answered in the second, tying the game but wishing they could have done more. Willie Aikens led off with a single and Martinez hit Amos Otis with a pitch. Clint Hurdle grounded into a forceout at second. Next came a weird play, as U L Washington hit a fly ball into short left field. It landed in front of Gary Roenicke, but Aikens wasn’t sure it would land safely. He got a late start for home and was thrown out at the plate. Frank White singled to score Hurdle, but Martinez got a groundout to end the inning.
The score was still tied when the sixth inning started. Orioles first baseman Eddie Murray led off with his 20th home run of the year, vaulting Baltimore into the lead.
The Royals’ best chance to tie the game came in the eighth inning. Darrell Porter singled to start the inning, and Otis singled with one out, moving Porter to third. But Martinez coaxed a double play grounder from Hurdle, and the threat was over.
Kansas City had one last gasp, as Willie Wilson singled with two outs and stole second. But John Wathan grounded out and the game was over.
The loss dropped the Royals to 70-42. They held a 12.5-game lead over Oakland in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 1-4 with a stolen base, advancing his hitting streak to 24 games. Season stats: .388/.448/.659
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198008110.shtml
1980 news: The Democratic National Convention began at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The major story of the first day was the rules fight between the two main factions of the party, one supporting President Jimmy Carter and the other supporting his challenger throughout the primaries, Senator Ted Kennedy. Although Carter had won enough primaries to clinch the nomination, Kennedy’s supporters were hoping to change the convention rules to allow delegates to “vote their conscience,” with the hope that many who were supposed to vote for Carter being allowed to switch. However, the convention agreed to a rule binding delegates to vote based on the primary results in their respective states. That meant Carter had officially clinched the nomination.
1980 baseball news: The Yankees recovered from their sweep at the hands of the Orioles with a 3-1 win over the White Sox. While New York won on a walkoff home run by Aurelio Rodriguez, the other highlight was Reggie Jackson hitting the 400th home run of his career.
Today’s birthdays: Vada Pinson (1938), Mike Hedlund (1946), Melky Cabrera (1984)