Hal McRae’s reputation as a hard-nosed baserunner might have cost the Royals a game, as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Tigers at Royals Stadium.
In the third inning, with the Royals trailing 2-0, George Brett hit a leadoff single. Tigers starter Vern Ruhle hit McRae with a pitch. John Mayberry hit a soft grounder back to Ruhle, who threw to shortstop Tom Veryzer at second base for the forceout. McRae did not slide into second but did run into Veryzer, who did not attempt a throw to first. Umpire Al Clark ruled interference on the play, meaning Mayberry was also out. Manager Whitey Herzog was kicked out of the game after a lengthy argument, and Brett was sent back to second base. Amos Otis doubled to score Brett, but Darrell Porter grounded out to end the inning with the Royals still behind, 2-1.
McRae said after the game, “It was the first time it was ever called on me. I’ve done it for seven years and in more important games than this. Maybe it’s something new. I’ve never seen it called on anybody.”
However, the Royals had plenty of other chances to score runs and failed to take full advantage. They left a man on second in the seventh, got two singles and no runs in the eighth, and got nothing from a one-out double in the ninth.
Detroit, after being outscored by the Royals 28-6 in the first three games of the season in the Motor City, jumped on top in this one with Ben Oglivie’s two-run home run in the second off Royals starter Jim Colborn. They added two more in the sixth as Ron LeFlore, Tito Fuentes, and Steve Kemp started the inning with consecutive singles. Colborn walked Rusty Staub, the last batter he faced. Larry Gura got three straight outs in relief, but one was a fly ball that scored Fuentes for a 4-1 Detroit lead.
Ruhle retired 10 straight Royals after the Otis RBI double in the second, but the home team finally stirred to life in the seventh, with some assistance from the Tigers defense. Al Cowens led off with a single and reached third when right fielder Oglivie misplayed the ball. Pete LaCock grounded out, with Cowens scoring. Freddie Patek singled and reached second on a groundout. Brett’s grounder to second was booted by Fuentes, allowing Patek to score and Brett to reach second. But McRae lined out to center to end the inning.
Cookie Rojas doubled with one out in the ninth, but Tigers reliever Jim Crawford retired Brett on a fly ball to left before reliever Steve Foucault closed out the game by getting McRae to ground out to first.
The Royals dropped to 4-2 with the loss.
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