Frank White provided the game-winning hit, lifting the Royals to a 3-2 win over Cleveland on a Saturday night at Royals Stadium.
The Royals came to the plate in the seventh inning trailing 2-1. They had managed just four hits off Cleveland starter Wayne Garland, who then retired the first two batters. But Amos Otis drew a walk, only the second one Garland issued. Clint Hurdle drove in Otis with a double. White then smacked a single into center field, bringing Hurdle around to score the go-ahead run.
After the game, Royals manager Jim Frey admitted that, had Hurdle reached base but not driven in Otis, he would have hit for White. The veteran second baseman used his media platform after the game to air his grievances over that situation, as well as his contract, not for the first time in the 1980 season:
“Sometimes I hate to come to the ballpark. I just want my contract brought up to standards other people in the league are setting. But I guess they (the Royals) don’t see my way. I’ve just got to try to forget about it and play the best I can.
“When I was in the on-deck circle, I was depressed. I knew the outcome of Clint’s at-bat would determine whether I stayed in or not. If he got a single, (Jamie) Quirk would have batted for me. But I knew if the game was tied I would stay in…I was happy he got the run in. But you don’t want to be up there thinking they’re going to bat for you.
When Whitey (Herzog) was here, he didn’t do it hardly at all. I feel I’m a capable enough hitter. If we had some home run hitter to bat for me, I wouldn’t feel bad. I know you’ve got to go with the percentages sometimes, but it’s depressing I’m the only one they pinch-hit for.”
While White was unhappy, Royals starter Rich Gale was basking in his 11th straight win as a starter and 13th of the year. Gale had not lost since June 11, also against Cleveland. In this game, he pitched seven innings, allowing eight hits and four walks, although he did not record a strikeout. Two of those hits came in the first inning, as Miguel Dilone led off with a single and stole second. He then scored on a Mike Hargrove single.
The Royals tied the score in the second, as Willie Aikens led off with a single. But Darrell Porter grounded into a forceout. Otis singled, moving Porter to third, and Hurdle’s sacrifice fly scored Porter.
They held that lead until the Royals rallied in the seventh. After Gale issued a walk to start the eighth, Dan Quisenberry took over and retired six straight hitters for his 28th save.
With the win, the Royals improved to 79-44. They held a 16.5-game lead in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 0-3 with a walk, knocking his batting average back below .400. Season stats: .399/.460/.674
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198008230.shtml
1980 baseball news: Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley, who had owned the team for 20 years and moved them from Kansas City to the West Coast, announced he had sold the franchise to Walter Haas and two others. Haas, the chairman of the Levi Strauss Corporation, promised to keep the team in Oakland for at least the seven years remaining on their lease at the Coliseum, plus the 20 additional years on the lease option. The sale price was reported as $12.7 million but would not be effective until November 6, and also needed the approval of other American League owners.