The losing streak continued for the Royals, reaching eight games, but there were some positive signs that they might be snapping out of their recent slump in an 8-7 loss to Minnesota on a Sunday afternoon at Metropolitan Stadium.
Kansas City had not managed seven runs in a game since September 19; in fact, they had scored just eight runs total in the previous four games. And twice they responded to Minnesota taking the lead, and held a 7-4 lead going to the bottom of the seventh.
The Royals got an unearned run in the first. Rance Mulliniks started the game with a single, but was forced out at second on a Pete LaCock ground ball. Jamie Quirk reached first when center fielder Ken Landreaux dropped his fly ball. Willie Aikens hit a grounder to first, but the Twins failed to convert it to a double play when shortstop Roy Smalley made a bad return throw to first. LaCock scored on the play.
After working around a two-out triple in the first, Royals starter Paul Splittorff wasn’t as fortunate in the second. With two outs, Pete Mackanin and Ron Jackson singled. A walk to Bombo Rivera loaded the bases, and Gary Ward cleared them with a double to give the Twins a 3-1 lead.
Back came the Royals in the third, although Twins starter Roger Erickson retired the first two batters of the inning. LaCock doubled, and singles by Quirk, Aikens, and Darrell Porter produced two runs and tied the game at 3-3.
Splittorff faced three batters in the fifth and failed to get an out. With the bases loaded, Craig Chamberlain came on in relief and got out of the jam with just one run scoring. That came on Smalley’ sacrifice fly; Chamberlain followed that with an intentional walk before Butch Wynegar lined into a double play.
Twins reliever Mike Kinnunen had retired seven straight hitters since entering the game following Porter’s single in the third. But Aikens and Porter opened the sixth with singles. After a one-out walk to Hal McRae loaded the bases, Pete Redfern replaced Kinnunen. George Brett, in a pinch-hitting role, greeted the reliever with a grand slam, his 22nd home run of the season. For Brett, who had been mired in a 4-27 slump, it had to be a relief.
Unfortunately for the Royals, the 7-4 lead wouldn’t last. Rich Gale had no problem in the sixth, but in the seventh, Ward led off with a bunt single. John Castino followed with a single that moved Ward to third. Mike Cubbage grounded into a forceout, with Ward scoring. Glenn Adams followed with a two-run home run, tying the game at 7-7. After Gale walked Wynegar, Dan Quisenberry came on in relief. Rob Wilfong hit a blooper into right field that bounced over John Wathan’s head. That allowed Wynegar to score the go-ahead run.
The Royals went quietly in the eighth. In the ninth, they got a bunt single from Mulliniks and a walk by LaCock with one out, but Doug Corbett got Quirk to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The loss gave Minnesota sweep of the three-game series. It also concluded Kansas City’s road schedule for the regular season; the Royals finished with a 48-33 mark away from home. Kansas City fell to 92-64, but still had an insurmountable 12.5-game lead in the AL West.
George Brett watch: 1-1 with the grand slam, the first of his career. Season stats: .385/.450/.652
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN198009280.shtml
1980 sports news: The Chiefs continued to struggle, losing at home to the San Diego Chargers by a 24-7 score. Kansas City dropped to 0-4 on the year and had now scored just 50 points in their four games.