The Royals came up just short in a ninth-inning rally, instead dropping a 4-3 loss to the California Angels on a Tuesday night at Anaheim Stadium.
Angels starter Frank Tanana had held Kansas City to seven hits through the first eight innings, and held a 4-1 lead as he returned to the mound for the ninth. Frank White led off with a single and Willie Aikens belted his 16th home run of the year, cutting the California lead to 4-3. Mark Clear replaced Tanana, and despite allowing a one-out single, got three ground balls to end the game and record his ninth save.
Royals starter Paul Splittorff took the loss despite a solid outing. He gave up five hits in the first six innings before weakening in the seventh. Dickie Thon led off the first with a double and scored on a pair of groundouts, and Dan Ford hit a solo home run in the third. But Splittorff retired nine of the next 10 batters.
Kansas City hitters had done very little against Tanana entering the seventh inning. The Royals had just three hits and a walk to that point, and one of the runners had been erased on a double play. But John Wathan, who had one of those hits, led off with the seventh with a single. With two outs, Jose Cardenal and Dave Chalk each singled, bringing Wathan in to make the score 2-1.
California responded in the bottom of the seventh. Bobby Grich led off with a single and scored when Rick Miller doubled to right field. Cardenal bobbled the ball, allowing Grich to score. Dan Quisenberry took over and got the second out of the inning, but Thon singled to drive in Miller for a 4-1 lead, although Thon got caught in a rundown for the final out.
That run became the difference when the Royals couldn’t quite catch up in the ninth.
The Royals dropped to 87-52 with the loss. They still had a 17.5-game lead in the AL West; with Texas losing, Kansas City’s magic number to clinch the division moved down to seven.
Off the field, the Royals announced the procedure fans would need to follow to be entered into a lottery drawing for playoff tickets. Fans were required to mail a letter with their preference for ALCS or World Series tickets, a self-addressed stamped envelope, and a cashier’s check, money order, or certified check for the ticket cost and handling to a post office box by September 15. Each fan was limited to two tickets. Ticket costs were $10 each for reserved seats and $5 each for reserved general admission seats in the ALCS, and $15 each for World Series reserved seats and $10 each for reserved general admission seats, plus a $1 handling charge for each order.
George Brett watch: Brett missed his third straight game with a slightly injured right hand. With the division lead well in hand, the Royals were obviously going to be cautious with their star. Season stats: .396/.463/.668
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CAL/CAL198009090.shtml