The Royals split a doubleheader in Baltimore, winning the first game 4-1 before falling 7-2 in the second.
The two days off since Kansas City’s last game seemed to have given the Royals a refresher in the first inning. With one out, Hal McRae doubled off Baltimore starter Ross Grimsley. Amos Otis followed with a triple, and Al Cowens brought him home with a sacrifice fly.
Baltimore got one run back in the second, as Eddie Murray led off with a single off Royals starter Paul Splittorff. Brooks Robinson doubled with one out, with Murray stopping at third. Rick Dempsey grounded out, scoring Murray.
But Splittorff was sharp after that, holding Baltimore to three hits over the next four innings. Likewise, the Royals’ offense struggled after the first inning, as Grimsley retired 11 of 14 hitters after the Otis triple.
That changed in the sixth, as George Brett, in his first game back from an elbow injury suffered in the brawl with Texas on May 7, led off with a double. Brett took third on a groundout, then scored on a Cowens groundout.
Cowens came up big again in the eighth. McRae led off the inning with a double and took third on a sacrifice bunt. Cowens doubled for an insurance run, giving the Royals a 4-1 lead.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Splittorff gave up consecutive singles to Mark Belanger and Ken Singleton. With the tying run at the plate, reliever Mark Littell struck out Lee May and Murray to end the inning.
In the second game, the Royals squandered golden scoring opportunities in the first few innings, and their 1-0 lead could not stand up in the late innings. Orioles starter Dennis Martinez issued three walks in the first inning, but McRae, who drew the first one, was caught stealing, and the Royals did not score.
Darrell Porter led off the second inning with a home run, followed by Tom Poquette reaching first on an error. With one out, Martinez hit Frank White with a pitch, but retired the next two batters. And in the third, Martinez issued two two-out walks before Poquette loaded the bases with an infield single. But Freddie Patek grounded out, keeping the score 1-0.
Royals starter Jim Colborn held the Orioles to two hits in the first five innings. But with one out in the sixth, Bumbry and Billy Smith both singled. Colborn hit Singleton with a pitch, then issued a walk to Murray to force in the tying run. Reliever Steve Mingori took over, but Pat Kelly’s sacrifice fly put Baltimore in front.
The Orioles added a run in the seventh in a two-out rally. Bumbry singled and stole second, then scored on Smith’s single. Baltimore then put the game away with a four-run eighth inning, highlighted by Dempsey’s double with the bases loaded off reliever Doug Bird.
The Royals managed one run in the ninth, with Brett driving in Patek with a double. But Martinez, despite all the pitches he threw in the first three innings, finished off the complete game with a McRae fly ball.
The second game featured some fireworks between the umpires and the Orioles. Manager Earl Weaver was ejected in the first inning by umpire Joe Brinkman. When Orioles shortstop Kiko Garcia was tossed after striking out in the third, Weaver broke the rules by returning to the dugout. He kept the Orioles in their dugout before the fourth inning began, giving them a pep talk. After the game, Weaver accused Brinkman of telling first baseman Tony Muser he would “get you every chance I can” late in the 1976 season. Weaver then said he had confronted Brinkman with that during a recent argument in Seattle and the umpire had confirmed it. Brinkman had also angered the Orioles the previous night with a call that went against them, and Weaver promised to file a complaint with the league office.
With the split of the two games, the Royals’ record was 19-21. Minnesota swept a doubleheader in Boston, meaning Kansas City was now 7.5 games out of first, sitting in sixth place in the AL West.
Box score and play-by-play (first game):
Box score and play-by-play (second game):
1977 news: Some of you nerds out there (certainly not me, ahem) might have recognized the date already, but a little-known science-fiction movie named Star Wars premiered in roughly 30 theaters across the nation. Despite the limited number of theaters showing it, Star Wars would end the week as the top earner at the box office, and of course ended the year as the top film by a significant amount.