This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: April 20

In a bizarre game that left both teams befuddled, the Minnesota Twins scored in the eighth inning to pick up a 3-2 win over Kansas City on a Wednesday night at Royals Stadium.

The Royals picked up 15 hits, but only managed the two runs. And one of those scored on a Twins error. Meanwhile, the visitors collected 10 hits, but only scored on their three solo home runs, with Craig Kusick’s blast in the eighth off Royals reliever Mark Littell proving to be the game-winner. And that one almost wasn’t a home run; it hit the top of the left field fence and bounced over.

The game was delayed 30 minutes by rain before the start, and the odd plays began soon after. Kansas City had three hits and a walk in the second inning and had nothing to show for it. Darrell Porter started the inning with a single. Al Cowens hit a fly ball to deep left that was caught, and Porter was ruled out when he failed to retouch second on his way back to first. Tom Poquette followed with a single and Freddie Patek walked. Frank White reached on an infield single, but Poquette was tagged out at home plate; catcher Glenn Borgmann missed the tag, but Poquette missed home on his slide. Borgmann realized what was happening first and tagged Poquette, who was sitting on the ground next to the plate. 

Predictably, after such a good scoring opportunity went to waste, the Twins jumped in front as Larry Hisle and Dan Ford tagged Royals starter Paul Splittorff for back-to-back home runs in the third.

Kansas City got one run back in the third, but in keeping with the spirit of this game, could have had more. George Brett led off with a double against Twins starter Paul Thormodsgard, but was promptly picked off. That hurt when Hal McRae singled. John Mayberry grounded out, with McRae taking second. Minnesota shortstop Roy Smalley booted an Amos Otis grounder, and McRae scored to cut the Twins’ lead in half.

The Royals tied the game in the sixth. Porter led off with a single and took second on a wild pitch. He stopped at third on a Cowens single. With one out, Patek singled to score Porter. But the inning ended when Cowens was doubled off second after a line drive to right field.

The seventh and eighth innings for Kansas City both ended with double plays, two of the club-record five turned by Minnesota.

The game also featured the normally mild-mannered Splittorff confronting Twins first base coach Tony Oliva, accusing him of signaling to batters whether Porter was setting up for an inside or outside pitch. Oliva admitted after the game that he had been doing that the previous night, but maintained he had not been doing so in this game.

The loss dropped the Royals to 6-5 on the season. They fell into a tie for fourth with the Twins, with both teams 1.5 games out of first.

Box score and play-by-play:

1977 news: The movie Annie Hall, directed by Woody Allen and co-starring Allen and Diane Keaton, had its nationwide release after premiering at the Los Angeles Film Festival in March. The movie would go on to win four major Oscars at the 1978 ceremony: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress.

Today’s birthday: Dusty Coleman (1987)

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