The Texas Rangers shut out the Royals by a 5-0 count on a Wednesday night at Royals Stadium.
Rangers starter Bert Blyleven had his way with Kansas City, picking up six strikeouts and walking one while holding the Royals to seven singles in a complete-game effort.
But none of that bothered the Royals as much as one particular pitch Blyleven made in the ninth inning. The right-hander plunked Kansas City catcher Darrell Porter with a curveball, admitting after the game it was deliberate following a pitch from Marty Pattin that sailed over the head of Texas outfielder Juan Beniquez in the top of the ninth.
After Porter reached first, he and Blyleven began arguing, leading to the benches emptying. No punches were thrown before the umpires restored order, and Porter and Blyleven were even allowed to stay in the game.
“I’ve got to protect my players or you can lose their respect. I didn’t care who I hit. It so happened Porter was the one–he’s their catcher and he calls the pitches in and out. I went for his thigh, the middle part of his body. I wasn’t throwing at his head like they did to Beniquez,” Blyleven said after the game.
Royals manager Whitey Herzog said he expected retaliation after the Beniquez pitch, although he denied Pattin had ill intent.
“He had to protect his players. But who would throw at Juan Beniquez? As soon as Beniquez ducked, I looked over and saw (Texas manager) Frank Lucchesi shaking his fist and saying something to Blyleven. This is the bad thing about the designated hitter rule. Pitchers don’t have to worry about retaliation.”
The normally light-hitting Beniquez had homered in the third inning. The three-run shot off Royals starter Dennis Leonard was his first since the 1975 season.
That gave Blyleven more than enough support, although Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg helped out his batterymate with an RBI single in the seventh and a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
The Royals were also annoyed by Lucchesi asking the umpires to inspect Hal McRae’s bat in the fifth inning, after McRae had collected two hits in his first two at-bats. Umpires found nothing unusual about McRae’s lumber, but he did go 0-2 after the interruption. Herzog referred to his counterpart as “Emmett Kelly” for the stunt.
The loss dropped the Royals to 10-7 on the season. They were in fourth place in the AL West, although they were only one game out of first place.
Box score and play-by-play: