This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: May 20

Paul Splittorff scattered eight hits in a complete-game effort as the Royals defeated Cleveland, 4-0, on a Friday night at Royals Stadium.

Splittorff relied on his defense, as he only had one strikeout; he only walked one, though. Excellent defensive plays by shortstop Freddie Patek and right fielder Tom Poquette helped him work around two singles in the first inning, and Cleveland only had one more inning with multiple baserunners.

Kansas City scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning. Al Cowens led off with a triple against Indians starter Dennis Eckersley, and scored on a Darrell Porter groundout.

Patek contributed on offense as well, driving in two runs in the Royals’ sixth inning. With two outs and no one on, Porter singled and Pete LaCock walked. Cookie Rojas, who had four hits, singled to load the bases. Patek singled and two runs scored, increasing the Kansas City lead to 3-0.

The Royals added an insurance run in the eighth, as Rojas led off with a triple. With two outs, Joe Zdeb singled to drive in pinch-runner Bob Heise. But Splittorff didn’t need it, working around a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth to close out the game and give the Royals a chance to pop some champagne.

Yep, champagne. The team didn’t have any on hand when Jim Colborn threw his no-hitter on May 14, so several bottles were acquired to be used after the next win. But with two off days and three losses, the players had to wait for Splittorff’s shutout to celebrate.

Off the field, the Royals announced that third baseman George Brett, sidelined since the May 7 brawl in Texas, had received a cortisone shot for his injured right elbow. The team hoped he would return to the lineup within a week.

With the win, the Royals got back to .500 at 18-18. They remained in fourth place in the AL West, 5.5 games behind first-place Minnesota.

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthday: Steve Stemle (1977) 

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