This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: April 22

The Royals’ first game in the Kingdome in Seattle was an adventure, with Kansas City prevailing 6-5 thanks to George Brett’s ninth-inning double.

Brett, like all the Royals, had to learn the Kingdome’s peculiarities the hard way. His lesson came in the first inning, as the Mariners picked up a fluky run. Royals starter Andy Hassler walked Jose Baez to start the inning, and Baez stole second. After a one-out single moved him to third, Leroy Stanton hit a grounder well foul down the third base line. Except the ball spun back into fair territory, surprising Brett, who had seen third base coach Jim Busby make a move toward the ball. Brett was able to recover and throw out Stanton, who never left the batter’s box, but Baez scored to put the Mariners in front, 1-0. The Royals thought the ball hit a seam in the artificial turf, but Mariners manager Darrell Johnson claimed after the game the ball had simply followed the contours of the playing surface, which kind of seems like a problem.

Seattle extended the lead in the third, as Baez reached on an error with one out. He stopped at third on Steve Braun’s double, and scored on a more conventional groundout.

The Royals got on the board in the fourth, but also helped the Mariners make some history. Tom Poquette started the inning with a single against Seattle starter Glenn Abbott. John Mayberry reached on an error, with Poquette taking third and Mayberry stopping at second. Amos Otis singled to drive in Poquette, while Mayberry stopped at third. Darrell Porter hit a grounder to shortstop Craig Reynolds, who stepped on second for the forceout and threw to first to retire Porter. Mayberry belatedly broke for home, but first baseman Danny Meyer alertly threw to catcher Skip Jutze, who applied the tag on Mayberry. Just 16 games into their history, the Mariners had their first-ever triple play.

Kansas City managed to tie the score in the sixth, as an error by Stanton in right field allowed Hal McRae to reach third base. He scored on Poquette’s groundout.

Singles by Porter, Al Cowens, and Freddie Patek in the seventh put the Royals in front, 3-2. And KC manufactured a run in the eighth, as McRae led off with a double, was bunted to third, and scored on a Mayberry grounder.

But the Royals could not hold the lead. Hassler walked Baez with one out in the eighth. Braun singled, and Ruppert Jones walked. Mark Littell relieved Hassler and got a strikeout, but Juan Bernhardt tripled to clear the bases and give Seattle a 5-4 lead. 

After two quick outs in the ninth, the Royals were down to their last out. Patek singled, as did pinch-hitter Pete LaCock. Brett lined a double into right field, allowing Patek and pinch-runner Joe Zdeb to scamper home with the tying and go-ahead runs. Larry Gura picked up the save with three groundouts in the home half of the ninth.

With the win, the Royals improved to 7-5 on the season. They were in fourth place in the AL West, although they were only 1.5 games out of first place.

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Steve Jones (1941), Bill Paschall (1954), Andres Machado (1993)

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