Jim Colborn put his name in the record books, pitching the third no-hitter in Royals history as Kansas City beat the Texas Rangers, 6-0, on Saturday night at Royals Stadium.
Colborn barely missed a perfect game, as he hit Toby Harrah with a pitch in the fifth and walked Jim Sundberg in the sixth, although Sundberg was promptly erased on a double play. Colborn struck out six. This was the first no-hitter thrown by a Kansas City pitcher at home; Steve Busby had previously accomplished the feat in Detroit in 1973 and in Milwaukee in 1974. Nolan Ryan hurled the first no-hitter in stadium history, pitching for California in 1973.
The Royals’ defense backed up Colborn with some nice plays. In particular, right fielder Tom Poquette made terrific running catches on line drives from Mike Hargove in the first inning and Willie Horton in the seventh. Center fielder Al Cowens had to run a long way to snare a Bert Campaneris fly ball in the seventh and a Tom Grieve liner in the eighth. However, the Rangers only hit nine balls out of the infield.
“I was thinking in the fifth inning that if I got through seven, I’d just need nine more outs,” Colborn said after the game. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to prepare myself mentally to pitch a no-hitter. I don’t want to settle for anything less, even if I have to walk a few batters in the ninth.’”
But it didn’t come to that. Colborn started the ninth by retiring pinch-hitter Bill Fahey on a grounder to first, with Colborn covering the bag. Dave May hit a routine fly ball to left. And then, with the crowd of 29,978 on their feet, Claudell Washington hit a grounder to first baseman Pete LaCock, who raced to the bag for the unassisted putout that made history.
Although they were somewhat of an afterthought in this one, Royals hitters collected a double-digit hit total for the second game in a row, a welcome development after they had been slumping recently. On this night, Kansas City rapped out 12 hits, a night after getting 11. The Royals’ revamped lineup, with slumping center fielder Amos Otis and first baseman John Mayberry joining the injured George Brett on the bench, scored two runs in three different innings.
In the third inning, with two outs, Rangers starter Tommy Boggs walked Dave Nelson. Poquette tripled and Hal McRae singled, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead.
In the sixth, the Royals gave Colborn a bit more breathing room. LaCock led off with a double, then scored on Darrell Porter’s triple. With one out, Freddie Patek beat out a bunt single, with Porter scoring on the play for a 4-0 lead.
Then the Royals added two insurance runs in the eighth. Facing reliever Mike Marshall, Porter doubled to start the inning, but was thrown out at third on a Cookie Rojas grounder to shortstop. Rojas then stole second and scored on a Patek triple. Frank White put down a squeeze bunt to score Patek.
With the win, the Royals improved to 17-15. They were in third place in the AL West, four games out of first place.
Box score and play-by-play:
Today’s birthdays: Dick Howser (1936), Pat Borders (1963), Larry Sutton (1970), Brad Rigby (1973), Christian Colon (1989)
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