Milwaukee hurler Bob McClure, making his first career start after 212 relief appearances, baffled the Royals in the Brewers’ 6-1 win in a nighttime Labor Day game at Royals Stadium.
Despite leading all Milwaukee relievers with nine saves, McClure got a spot start when Paul Mitchell pulled a hamstring. The one-time Royal held his former club to six hits, although he did walk four and only had one strikeout.
Meanwhile, Royals starter Rich Gale had a string of strong starts come to an end as he failed to make it out of the fourth inning. Gale had not taken a loss since June 11, winning 11 straight decisions. But Milwaukee scored two runs in the first inning. With one out, Robin Yount doubled and scored on a Cecil Cooper single. Cooper then stole second and took third on catcher Jamie Quirk’s throwing error. After Gorman Thomas walked, Ben Oglivie singled to put the Brewers up 2-0.
Milwaukee added another run in the second. Jim Gantner led off with a triple and scored on a Buck Martinez single. Gale did manage to limit the damage, retiring Oglivie on a fly ball with the bases loaded to end the inning with the Royals still down three.
The Royals climbed back in the game with a run in the third. Quirk led off with a walk but was forced out at second on Willie Wilson’s grounder. After U L Washington walked, Wilson stole third and scored on George Brett’s single. But with Washington at third, McClure got a pair of popups from Hal McRae and John Wathan to end the inning.
Milwaukee immediately answered in the fourth. Martinez led off with a walk but was erased at second on Paul Molitor’s grounder. Molitor then stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. Cooper put down a bunt single, bringing Molitor home for a 4-1 lead. Cooper stole second and Thomas walked, and the Royals removed Gale in favor of Ken Brett, making his Royals debut.
The elder Brett brother would go on to pitch 4 ⅓ scoreless innings, allowing just two walks, as the Royals tried in vain to figure out McClure. After George Brett’s RBI single, McClure retired 13 of the next 14 hitters, issuing only a walk to Wilson in that span. The Royals’ best chance to cut into the Milwaukee lead may have come in the eighth, when Washington led off with a walk. But three fly balls later, the inning was over and Washington was still on first.
Milwaukee added two insurance runs in the ninth, as Don Money doubled off Craig Chamberlain to score Thomas and Oglivie, but McClure didn’t need the extra help. The Royals collected two singles in the ninth but could not score.
With the loss, the Royals dropped to 85-47. They held a 19.5-game lead in the AL West, and their magic number to clinch the division title stood at 12.
George Brett watch: 1-4 with the RBI, his 97th of the year. Season stats: .401/.463/.662
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198009010.shtml
1980 news: With Labor Day weekend upon us, the presidential campaign kicked into gear. President Jimmy Carter attended a campaign event in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Later that day, speaking in Detroit, challenger Ronald Reagan referred to Carter “opening his campaign in the city that gave birth to and is the parent body of the Ku Klux Klan.” Carter, arguably taking the line out of context, would denounce those remarks as a slur against the entire South.