This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: September 24

If the Royals hadn’t already clinched the AL West title, their recent slump might be cause for concern. But with the division in hand, a sweep at the hands of the worst team in the American League was perhaps understandable, if not acceptable. The Mariners completed the three-game sweep with a 4-2 win on a Wednesday night at the Kingdome.

“I think there has been a letdown since we clinched the divisional title,” manager Jim Frey allowed after the game. “But I hope we get back in the right frame of mind during the last week of the regular season.”

The Royals’ fifth straight loss dropped their September record to 7-15. The primary culprit in this one was the offense, which managed just six hits against Seattle starter Rick Honeycutt and reliever Mike Parrott. Still, Kansas City did hold a 2-0 lead after single tallies in the third and fifth innings. In the third, Jose Cardenal and Dave Chalk started things with the Royals’ first two hits. Willie Wilson bounced into a forceout at second, but Cardenal scored from third. In the fifth, John Wathan led off with a double, took third on a grounder, and scored on Cardenal’s sacrifice fly.

Royals starter Paul Splittorff allowed two hits in the first four innings, but the Mariners managed to scrape together a run in their half of the fifth. Larry Milbourne singled to start the inning but was forced out at second on Tom Paciorek’s grounder. However, Paciorek stole second and scored when Larry Cox singled with two outs.

Seattle then took the lead in the sixth with some small ball. Rod Craig started the inning with a single and stole second. Reggie Walton singled, with Craig stopping at third. Willie Horton lofted a sacrifice fly to center, tying the game. Walton then stole second and took third on catcher Wathan’s throwing error. Milbourne put down a perfectly placed squeeze bunt, allowing Walton to score the lead run.

The Mariners added an insurance run in the seventh, as Dave Edler led off with a single, was bunted to second, and scored on Kim Allen’s double.

The Royals did have some chances to score after that. Wilson singled with two outs in the eighth, followed by pinch-hitter U L Washington’s single. But George Brett flied out to left to end the inning. In the ninth, Willie Aikens drew a one-out walk from Parrott, but Wathan struck out and Amos Otis grounded out and the game was over.

The Royals dropped to 92-61 with the loss. They led the AL West by 14 games still.

George Brett watch: 0-3 with a walk. For the first time since August 15, Brett’s batting average fell below .390. Season stats: .389/.454/.654

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Norm Angelini (1947), Hubie Brooks (1956), Scott Leius (1965), Kevin Koslofski (1966), Paul Spoljaric (1970)

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