This Date in Royals History–1980 Edition: September 23

The Royals continued to struggle through a relatively meaningless stretch of baseball, dropping their fourth straight game as they lost to Seattle, 7-3, on a Tuesday night at the Kingdome.

With the AL West title in hand and, under the rules at the time, the playoff schedule set to give Kansas City two home games in the ALCS before playing the last three at the AL East champion, the Royals had little to play for as the season wound down. 

It showed early on in this game, as Seattle grabbed control with five runs in the first inning. The Royals did manage one run in the first, as Willie Wilson led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a George Brett single. But the Mariners roared back against Royals starter Renie Martin. Joe Simpson singled with one out, and back-to-back two-out walks to Bruce Bochte and Willie Horton loaded the bases. Dan Meyer singled to score two runs, and Jerry Narron blasted a three-run home run for a 5-1 lead.

Kansas City could not solve Seattle starter Jim Beattie, who held the Royals to seven hits in a complete-game effort. Beattie walked three and struck out only two, but the Royals also grounded into two double plays. The only Royals hitter who enjoyed much success was Wilson, who scored KC’s second run in a similar fashion to the first. He singled with one out in the third, stole second again (giving him 74 steals for the year), and scored on a Hal McRae single.

The Mariners responded immediately to that run, as Horton hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third. Dave Edler led off Seattle’s half of the fourth with a home run as well, giving the Mariners a 7-2 advantage.

The Royals could manage just one more run, which came when Willie Aikens hit his 20th home run of the season to lead off the sixth. Beattie would allow just a walk and a single after that, retiring seven straight hitters to close out the game. One of the few highlights for the Royals was that single, Wilson’s third hit of the game, in the seventh. That gave the speedy outfielder a franchise-record 216 hits for the season, breaking a record Brett set in 1976 (Wilson would end the season with 230 hits, still a franchise record). 

The loss dropped the Royals to 92-60. They still led the AL West by a healthy 15 games.

George Brett watch: Another damaging night in Brett’s quest for .400, as he went 1-4 with an RBI. Since raising his average to .400 on September 19, Brett had been in a 3-16 slump. Season stats: .391/.456/.659

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Jim Rooker (1942), Brent Abernathy (1977), Joba Chamberlain (1985)

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