After the Royals and Rangers had some bad blood the previous week in Kansas City, it was perhaps not surprising there were still some hard feelings. But the depth of those feelings probably surprised some onlookers as the Royals picked up a 6-5 win in 10 innings at Arlington Stadium.
Things got heated in the fourth inning, which started with a scoreless tie. Toby Harrah doubled with one out, and Bump Wills worked a walk from Royals starter Dennis Leonard. A wild pitch moved both runners up, and Jim Sundberg then put down a successful squeeze bunt with Wills moving up to third and Sundberg safe at first.
Rather incredibly, the Rangers tried another squeeze bunt with Juan Beniquez at the plate. Incidentally, Beniquez had been at the center of the previous week’s fight when Royals pitcher Marty Pattin threw a pitch over his head. The following inning, Rangers pitcher Bert Blyleven hit Royals catcher Darrell Porter with a pitch, sparking a benches-clearing incident, although no punches were thrown.
Anyway, Beniquez missed his bunt attempt here, and Wills was caught in a rundown. After heading back towards third and Porter’s throw there, Wills turned back toward home, collided with Porter, and was knocked to the ground. He got up and began yelling at the catcher, which escalated into a shoving match.
Suddenly, Rangers outfielder Claudell Washington entered the picture, with a sucker punch on Porter. Several scuffles broke out, although order was restored. Briefly, though, as Texas DH Willie Horton began shoving any Royals player or coach he could find. Things had calmed down again and Porter, who had been ejected, was leaving the field when Rangers coach Pat Corrales attacked him from behind. Even more pushing and shoving ensued, enough that a couple of Arlington police officers headed onto the field before being called back to the stands by Rangers general manager Dan O’Brien. At last, some 20 minutes later, order was fully restored and the game resumed. Horton, Washington, and Wills were ejected, as were Corrales and Texas manager Frank Lucchesi. Porter and outfielder Pete LaCock were the only Royals ejected, although Brett suffered an elbow injury and would later be removed from the game.
Oh yeah, the game. It turned out to be a pretty good one. Once the fourth inning resumed, Beniquez singled to score Sundberg to give Texas a 2-0 lead.
The Royals had done little against Texas starter Gaylord Perry, but stirred to life in the fifth. John Wathan, who took over for Porter behind the plate, led off with a single. Al Cowens followed with a single. Freddie Patek hit a grounder back to Perry, who threw wildly to third. Wathan scored, while Cowens took third and Patek took second. Cookie Rojas hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2. One out later, Hal McRae singled to drive in Patek and give the Royals the lead.
Kansas City extended the lead in the sixth, as Amos Otis and Cowens both pounded solo home runs to make the score 5-2.
Leonard had been in control ever since the fourth inning, and he got Sundberg out to start the ninth. But Beniquez tripled, then scored on a Dave May groundout. Still, the Royals needed just one out and had a 5-3 lead. Bert Campaneris reached on an infield single, and manager Whitey Herzog summoned Tom Hall from the bullpen. The move didn’t work out, as Hargrove homered to tie the game. Hall issued a walk before Mark Littell came on to get the final out and send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, Frank White drew a leadoff walk from Rangers reliever Adrian Devine. With one out, McRae singled, moving White to third. Pinch-hitter Joe Zdeb greeted relief pitcher Darold Knowles with a fly ball deep enough to score White and put the Royals in front.
Texas wasn’t done, though. Harrah started the bottom of the 10th with a single, and Sandy Alomar doubled, putting the tying run at third and the winning run at second with no outs. But Littell got a groundout, then a ground ball back to the mound which resulted in Harrah being caught off third, and a strikeout of May to end the game.
With the win, the Royals improved to 15-11. They were in third place in the AL West, 1.5 games behind Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: Entering the race as a heavy favorite (1-2 odds), Seattle Slew won the Kentucky Derby, finishing 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Run Dusty Run. Jockey Jean Cruguet guided the colt from a slow start to a commanding lead before coasting to the finish line.
Today’s birthdays: None