This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: August 19

The Royals scored three times in the top of the ninth to escape with a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers on a Tuesday night at Arlington Stadium; however, third baseman George Brett’s hitting streak wasn’t as fortunate, as it came to an end at 30 games after a close play at first in the ninth.

For seven innings, the Royals had no answer for Rangers starter Jon Matlack, who had allowed one walk and one hit since a Kansas City run in the first inning. The winning rally started when Texas shortstop Dave Roberts dropped a U L Washington popup to begin the ninth inning. Brett came to bat, needing a hit to extend the hitting streak. He hit a smash toward right field, but first baseman Pat Putnam knocked it down, then was able to crawl on his hands and knees to barely beat Brett to the base. The crowd of 17,800 gave Brett a long standing ovation, only stopping when he exited the dugout for a curtain call.

But there was still a game to finish. Hal McRae doubled to bring Washington home. Reliever Danny Darwin took over for Matlack, but Amos Otis singled to tie the game. After John Wathan singled, the Rangers turned to John Henry Johnson, but Willie Aikens singled to score Otis and put the Royals in front. 

Washington returned the favor, dropping a popup to start the bottom of the ninth. But Royals closer Dan Quisenberry retired the next three hitters to seal the win.

Kansas City’s first-inning run came on singles by Washington, McRae, and Otis. Royals starter Dennis Leonard held that lead until the fifth, when Johnny Grubb led off with a single. After Jim Norris walked with one out, Mickey Rivers singled to tie the game.

The Rangers took the lead in the seventh. Jim Sundberg singled with one out. Roberts hit a grounder that went through Brett’s legs and up the left-field line. Although left fielder Willie Wilson recovered the ball and was able to throw out Sundberg trying to score, Roberts reached third on the play. Rivers delivered another RBI single and Texas had the lead.

Texas added one insurance run in the eighth, as Al Oliver singled and took second on a bunt. Richie Zisk’s single scored Oliver and also finished Leonard’s outing. Jeff Twitty entered the game and got the next two outs, which meant he picked up his third win of the year when the Royals rallied in the ninth.

The win moved the Royals to 77-42. They also gained ground in the AL West, as second-place Oakland lost. Kansas City now had a 15.5-game lead in the division.

George Brett watch: 0-3 with a walk, ending his 30-game hitting streak. Incredibly, he had hit in nine straight games before an 0-4 game on July 17, and in 10 straight before an 0-4 on June 7 (remember, Brett missed a month with an ankle injury). So Brett had hit safely in 49 of 51 games (which puts Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak into some perspective). During his 30-game streak, Brett’s batting line was .467/.504/.746. Season stats: .401/.458/.670

Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TEX/TEX198008190.shtml

Today’s birthdays: Ned Yost (1954), Gary Gaetti (1958), Jed Hansen (1972), Kris Bubic (1997)

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