A ninth-inning meltdown handed the Brewers a 9-5 win over the Royals on a Thursday night at Royals Stadium.
Kansas City took a 5-1 lead into the ninth with Larry Gura on the mound. The lefthander had limited Milwaukee to seven hits and three walks over the first eight innings. But Don Money and Dick Davis each singled to start the inning. No problem for the Royals, who could call on the American League’s saves leader, Dan Quisenberry, to finish out the game.
But Sal Bando and Charlie Moore each produced an RBI single, cutting the Royals’ lead to 5-3. Quisenberry got one out, but two more singles, these by Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper, each drove in one run and the game as suddenly tied. Cooper took second on a throw to home on his single, so the Royals intentionally walked Gorman Thomas to load the bases. That backfired when Ben Oglivie singled to drive in two runs. Money and Davis kept the merry-go-round going with two more RBI singles, giving Milwaukee a 9-5 lead. At last, Ken Brett relieved Quisenberry and ended the nightmare with a double play grounder.
Quisenberry saw his ERA jump from 2.59 to 3.08. The seven hits he allowed equaled the total from his last 11 outings, and the six runs he allowed was more than the five he gave up in 18 appearances in the month of August.
The big ninth inning was a bookend to Milwaukee’s first-inning run. Paul Molitor doubled to start the game and scored on a Yount single. Cooper followed with a single before Gura settled in and retired the next three hitters.
Frank White put the Royals ahead with a solo home run in the fifth. Kansas City added another run in the sixth as John Wathan doubled with one out and scored on a Jose Cardenal single. And then the Royals increased their lead to 5-1 in the seventh. Wilson led off with a singled and scored on George Brett’s 19th home run of the season. With Gura cruising, that lead seemed insurmountable until the ninth.
The loss dropped the Royals to 85-49 on the season. It also gave Milwaukee a sweep of the three-game series, marking the first time Kansas City had lost a series since June 30-July 2, and the first time they’d been swept since the second series of the year, April 15-17 in Baltimore. Since dropping two of three to Minnesota in that June/July series, the Royals had won 14 series and split three, for a record of 40-15. Still, Kansas City led the AL West by 18.5 games and their magic number to clinch the division remained at 11.
George Brett watch: 1-3 with the home run and two walks. The two RBI gave Brett 100, in just his 99th game. Season stats: .401/.467/.674
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198009040.shtml
1980 news: Once again, economic numbers for the previous month presented a mixed message. The unemployment rate in August dropped slightly, to 7.6% from 7.8% in July, thanks to improvement in the manufacturing sector. But wholesale food prices jumped 4.4% after a 3.8% increase in July, leading the government to predict higher grocery bills for consumers in the near future. The historic heat wave that hammered much of the country the previous three months (and wasn’t quite over, as the Kansas City area forecast still called for highs in the 90s) took much of the blame for the increase in food prices, as crops and livestock had been heavily damaged by the high temperatures and drought conditions.