This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: August 31

After coughing up a three-run lead in the eighth inning, the Royals scored on Frank White’s single in the ninth, picking up a 4-3 walkoff win over the Texas Rangers on a Sunday afternoon at Royals Stadium.

Rangers reliever Sparky Lyle had held the Royals at bay for three innings, allowing Texas to tie the score, when the ninth inning began. With one out, Clint Hurdle doubled. Lyle walked Jamie Quirk intentionally, and the Rangers turned to reliever Danny Darwin to face White, a matchup of right-handers. White foiled the strategy on the first pitch, with a line drive single into left-center field, easily scoring Hurdle. It was White’s 11th game-winning hit of the year.

Royals starter Paul Splittorff shut out the Rangers for seven innings on five hits. But Texas rallied in the eighth. With one out, Mickey Rivers singled. Billy Sample followed with a home run, and with two outs, Richie Zisk homered to tie the game at 3-3. Dan Quisenberry took over for Splittorff, and despite a Pat Putnam double, got out of the inning with the score still tied, then worked around a single in the ninth.

Kansas City built a 3-0 lead with single runs in the second, fourth, and fifth innings, all off Rangers starter Ken Clay. In a scary moment, Clay hit John Wathan in the helmet with a pitch to start the second. Wathan was taken to the hospital, but X-rays showed no serious injury, and Wathan was expected to be available for the next day’s game. White followed that by grounding into a forceout, but stole second and then reached third on another grounder. He scored on Willie Wilson’s single.

White scored again in the fourth, as he drew a one-out walk and swiped second again. Rance Mulliniks doubled, scoring White for a 2-0 lead.

Another walk helped the Royals score in the fifth. This time, it was Amos Otis drawing the free pass with one out. Then Otis stole second and scored on a Quirk single.

The win meant the Royals got a split of the four-game series. They closed August with an outstanding 23-7 record for the month, and improved to 85-46 overall. With Oakland losing, Kansas City opened up a whopping 20-game lead in the AL West.

George Brett watch: 0-3, although he did draw two walks. Season stats: .403/.465/.667

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Hideo Nomo (1968), Jason Gilfillan (1976), Ramon Ramirez (1981)

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