The Royals scored six runs in the third inning and appeared to be cruising to victory until Cleveland began picking up hit after hit in the ninth inning. But ultimately, Kansas City held on for a 7-5 win on a Sunday afternoon at Royals Stadium.
Cleveland starter (and Topeka native) Ross Grimsley survived a bases-loaded jam in the first and worked around an error in the second, but took a beating in the third. U L Washington led off with a single and stole second with one out. Amos Otis singled to score Washington and took second on the throw home. John Wathan singled to drive in Otis. After a groundout advanced Wathan to second, Jose Cardenal singled and made it all the way to third when left fielder Miguel Dilone made a wild throw home. Frank White tripled for another run, which ended Grimsley’s outing. Reliever Mike Stanton fared no better. He walked Dave Chalk ahead of Willie Wilson’s RBI single, and then Washington picked up his second hit of the inning with an RBI single. It took reliever Bob Owchinko striking out George Brett (who made two of the three outs in the frame) to end the inning.
The Royals added another run in the fourth as Owchinko walked Wathan with one out. Cardenal singled with two outs and White doubled, and the Royals had a 7-0 lead.
Royals starter Dennis Leonard held Cleveland to four singles in the first four innings, and Jorge Orta’s home run leading off the fifth seemed like a mere speed bump as Leonard continued mowing down Indians hitters. Leonard, seeking his 15th win, entered the ninth inning having allowed just the one run and seven hits, with one walk and four strikeouts. He retired the first hitter, but Cleveland then collected five straight singles. Rick Manning started the rally, followed by Jack Brohamer, Jerry Dybzinski, Dilone, and Orta. Dybzinski drove in one run and Orta picked up two more RBIs, and Cleveland had cut the Royals’ lead to 7-4. That meant a save situation, and that meant Dan Quisenberry. The Royals’ closer struck out Gary Alexander, then allowed an RBI single to Ron Hassey before getting pinch-hitter Joe Charboneau to ground out and end the game. That gave Quisenberry his 29th save of the season.
With the win, the Royals managed a split of the four-game series after dropping the first two games. They improved to 80-44 overall and held a 17.5-game lead in the AL West. Also, the win was the 1,000th in franchise history.
George Brett watch: 1-4 with a walk. Season stats: .397/.459/.670
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198008240.shtml
1980 baseball news: Minnesota manager Gene Mauch became the second AL West manager to lose his job during the 1980 season. Unlike Seattle’s former manager Darrell Johnson, Mauch left on his own terms as he announced his resignation after the Twins lost to Detroit. That left Minnesota with a 54-71 record and 26.5 games behind the Royals. Third base coach Johnny Goryl was named interim manager. Mauch had held the Twins’ managerial post since November of 1975.
1980 sports news: In golf, Kansas City native Tom Watson won the World Series of Golf in Akron, Ohio. The $100,000 prize pushed his year’s earnings to over $500,000, making him the first golfer to ever achieve that in one year. It was Watson’s seventh tournament title of 1980.
Today’s birthdays: None