The Royals’ furious comeback in the last two innings went for naught when Cleveland scored five runs in the 12th for a 12-7 win on Saturday night at Royals Stadium.
Cleveland built a 7-1 lead through the top of the eighth. The Indians scored five runs off Royals starter Doug Bird, with two runs in the third on a Buddy Bell double, Rick Manning triple, and Duane Kuiper groundout. In the fourth, they added three more runs as John Lowenstein led off with a single and stole second. He scored from second when Bell hit a line drive into right-center; Al Cowens tracked it down deep in the gap, but Lowenstein was able to beat a relay throw home. After Bird walked Fred Kendall, Manning homered to push the lead to 5-0.
Kansas City was held hitless for three innings by Cleveland starter Wayne Garland, and only had three singles (and two double plays) as they came to bat in the seventh. Hal McRae got them on the board with a leadoff home run.
But Cleveland responded with two runs in the eighth off Royals reliever Marty Pattin. Bruce Bochte led off with a double and stopped at third on a Lowenstein single. Patton picked off Lowenstein and retired Larvell Blanks, and it looked like the inning might end without incident. But Bell and Kendall laced back-to-back doubles, and the Indians took a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth.
Reliever Jim Kern had finished out the seventh for Cleveland, and retired the first batter he faced in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Pete LaCock doubled, and Tom Poquette drew a walk. McRae, who had entered the game with no home runs for the year, blasted his second of the evening and the Royals were only down 7-4.
Kern got the next four batters he faced, and Kansas City was down to its last out. Freddie Patek singled and stole second, and pinch-hitter Joe Zdeb drew a walk from new pitcher Sid Monge. Another pinch-hitter, John Wathan, facing reliever Tom Buskey, singled to score Patek. Cleveland turned to its fourth pitcher of the inning, Don Hood, only for pinch-hitter Dave Nelson to triple, driving in two runs and tying the game. Hood issued intentional walks to McRae and Amos Otis, then turned the game over to reliever Al Fitzmorris, who retired Bob Heise on a fly ball to send the game to extra innings.
All those pinch-hitters and subsequent defensive shifts resulted in Royals pitcher Mark Littell being inserted in the batting order when he came on to pitch the 10th. That hurt in the bottom of the inning when Patek doubled with two outs, and Fitzmorris issued two intentional walks to face his mound counterpart. Littell struck out looking and the game continued.
Littell got through the 11th with no problem, but walked Kuiper to start the 12th. Kuiper stole second, then reached third on a passed ball. He scored the go-ahead run on a Jim Norris fly ball. Paul Dade and Bochte followed with singles, and an intentional walk to Lowenstein loaded the bases. Frank Duffy singled to drive in two, and Bell blew the game open with a two-run double. The Royals got two men on in their half of the inning but a double play quickly took the wind out of their sails, and they did not score.
With the loss, the Royals fell to 18-19. They were in fourth place in the AL West, 5.5 games out of first.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: In horse racing, Seattle Slew picked up the second leg of his bid for the Triple Crown by winning the Preakness Stakes. While he had won the Kentucky Derby by a healthy margin, Seattle Slew only beat out runner-up Iron Constitution by 1 ½ lengths. But the colt had put himself in position to be the first Triple Crown winner since Secretariat in 1973. The third leg, the Belmont Stakes, was scheduled for June 11.
Today’s birthday: Mark Quinn (1974)