The Royals scored five runs in the eighth to remove any suspense from their 8-3 win over Toronto on Sunday afternoon at Royals Stadium.
With a 3-1 lead when they came to bat in the eighth, Kansas City faced Toronto starter Dave Lemanczyk, who had settled in nicely following the Royals’ three-run first inning. John Mayberry drew a walk to start the eighth, but was retired at second on a grounder. Shortstop Bob Bailor committed an error on an Amos Otis ground ball, and the Royals took full advantage. Al Cowens doubled to drive in one run, and Freddie Patek doubled to drive in two more. Reliever Chuck Hartenstein entered the game and got a break when Frank White’s line drive was snared by Bailor. But George Brett singled to score Patek, and Hal McRae’s double brought in Brett.
Kansas City’s big first inning was keyed by Lemanczyk’s wildness. With two outs and no one on, he walked Tom Poquette. Mayberry singled, moving Poquette to third. He scored on a wild pitch. Darrell Porter drew a walk, and Otis and Cowens each collected an RBI single to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.
That was a boon for starter Larry Gura, making his first start of the season in place of Andy Hassler, who was placed on the disabled list with a knee bruise he suffered on April 26. Gura had pitched a total of 11 innings on the season before this game; he had been quite effective, with three saves and a 0.82 ERA. He kept that going, allowing just two hits in the first six innings and throwing just 50 pitches.
Toronto finally got on the scoreboard when Otto Velez homered to start the seventh. Gura suffered through a tough inning following that; he was hit twice by batted balls and allowed three singles following the Velez homer. Luckily, Al Woods, who had the first single, was thrown out trying to steal second, so the Blue Jays got just the one run.
Mark Littell took over for Gura following that seventh inning. He escaped a bit of trouble in the eighth, then allowed a meaningless run in the ninth. Still, because he entered the game with the score 3-1, he picked up his third save of the season.
With the win, the Royals improved to 12-8. They were in second place in the AL West, just a half-game out of first.
Box score and play-by-play:
Today’s birthdays: Jose Lind (1964), Phil Hiatt (1969)