Willie Aikens collected three hits and drove in three runs to lead the Royals to a 6-4 win over the Indians on a Sunday afternoon at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.
Cleveland got one run back in the bottom of the first off Royals starter Dennis Leonard. After two outs, Mike Hargrove singled, Joe Charboneau walked, and Toby Harrah delivered an RBI single. Ron Hassey walked to load the bases but Leonard retired Alan Bannister on a ground ball to end the inning.
Kansas City added two more runs in the fifth. With one out, Willie Wilson reached base on an error on shortstop Tom Veryzer. Frank White doubled, with Wilson stopping at third. Singles by McRae and Aikens scored both runners.
Leonard, who had retired 14 straight hitters following Rick Manning’s leadoff single in the second, finally weakened in the seventh. With one out, Hassey and Bannister singled. After a groundout advanced the runners to second and third, pinch-hitter Gary Alexander and Miguel Dilone hit RBI singles to pull Cleveland within 5-3. Reliever Ken Brett took over but struggled with his control. A passed ball advanced runners to second and third. Brett walked Jorge Orta to load the bases, then hit Hargrove with a pitch to force in a run. Dan Quisenberry entered in relief and struck out Joe Charboneau to end the inning with the Royals still in front, 5-4.
Wilson led off the ninth with a double, took third on a White sacrifice bunt, and scored on McRae’s sacrifice fly to give the Royals an insurance run. Quisenberry allowed a two-out single in the ninth but retired Hargrove on a ground ball back to the mound to finish the game and pick up his 32nd save of the season.
The win moved the Royals to 87-50 on the season. They were in first place in the AL West, 18.5 games ahead of Texas and their magic number for clinching the division dropped to eight.
George Brett watch: Brett sat out the game with his right hand injury suffered the night before. The third baseman was listed as day-to-day and was probably happier than any Royal to leave Cleveland; he suffered an ankle injury there in June that cost him a month of games. Season stats: .396/.463/.668
Box score and play-by-play:
1980 sports news: Back in Kansas City, the Chiefs dropped their season opener, losing 27-14 to the Oakland Raiders. Chiefs quarterback Steve Fuller threw for 196 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted three times. Kansas City scored on their first possession, with Ted McKnight’s seven-yard run and Nick Lowery’s extra point giving them a 7-0 lead. But the Raiders scored 24 unanswered points after that.