With the wind blowing out at Fenway Park, the Saturday afternoon game between the Royals and Red Sox turned into a home run derby. That was unfortunate for the visitors, who lost the derby, 6-3, and the game, 17-12, after blowing a six-run lead.
Kansas City jumped on top early. With one out in the first, Hal McRae drew a walk from Red Sox starter Luis Tiant. With two outs, McRae stole second and John Mayberry also walked. Al Cowens singled to drive in McRae. Tiant would issue one more walk, to Tom Poquette, which loaded the bases. But Buck Martinez was retired on a fly ball and the inning was over.
The 1-0 lead didn’t last long. Fred Lynn singled off Royals starter Doug Bird with one out in the first. With two outs, Carl Yastrzemski hit a home run into the right-field seats, with Cowens tumbling over the fence as he attempted to catch the ball. Cowens was shaken up but stayed in the game.
It was the Royals’ turn to homer in the second, as George Brett drew a two-out walk and McRae belted one over the Green Monster to put Kansas City back on top, 3-2.
The Royals batted around in the fourth, enjoying a five-run explosion. Frank White led off with a single and took second on a groundout. McRae doubled to drive him in. Amos Otis singled, with McRae stopping at third. Relief pitcher Mike Paxton entered the game and retired John Mayberry on a fly ball, although McRae scored on the play. Paxton hit Cowens with a pitch, then surrendered a double to Poquette for two runs and a single to Martinez for another, pushing the Royals’ lead to 8-2.
Boston answered with two runs in their half of the fourth, on a Yastrzemski single and Carlton Fisk homer. The Royals then scored two runs in the fifth, as George Brett doubled with one out and scored on a McRae triple. Otis hit a sacrifice fly to score McRae and the Royals once again were ahead by six, 10-4.
The lead did not survive the fifth inning. Denny Doyle led off with a double and scored on Rick Burleson’s single. With one out, Jim Rice homered to make the score 10-7. That also brought relief pitcher Larry Gura to the mound, but he was ineffective. Yastrzemski, Fisk, and George Scott all singled, producing another run. Reliever Marty Pattin entered the game, only to give up a three-run shot to Dwight Evans that put Boston in front, 11-10.
Pattin got the last two outs of the fifth, but had a rough outing after that. Rice homered again in the sixth, with one man on. Scott started the seventh with another home run, followed by a Brett error and Butch Hobson RBI double, increasing the Boston lead to 15-10. Andy Hassler, in his first action since returning from the disabled list, took over on the mound. Doyle singled, and two outs later, Rice singled to score Hobson. Hassler then walked Yastrzemski and Fisk to force in a run, and the Red Sox ended the inning with a 17-10 lead.
The Royals got solo home runs from Otis and Cowens in the eighth, but could get no closer.
With the loss, the Royals dropped to 19-23. They remained in sixth place in the AL West, 7.5 games behind first-place Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: Tragedy struck the Cincinnati area as the Beverly Hills Supper Club, located in Southgate, Kentucky, burned to the ground with roughly 3,000 people in the building, despite the fire code at the time limiting capacity to half that, based on the number of exits in the building. The death toll rose to 165, with more than 200 injured. Later investigations determined that the building’s electrical wiring was poorly done, the facility lacked audible fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and a bizarre layout made exits hard to find.