The Royals’ first game in Canada was a successful one, as Paul Splittorff shut down the Blue Jays in Kansas City’s 4-1 win at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.
Despite not striking out a single hitter, Splittorff limited the expansion team to five hits, all singles, in 7 ⅓ innings. He did walk four batters.
Toronto had runners at second and third with one out in the second but could not score. However, they got on the board in the third, as Hector Torres led off with a single and reached second on a bunt. Bob Bailor singled, with Torres stopping at third. Roy Howell hit a grounder to shortstop Freddie Patek, who bobbled it. Torres scored on the error. Bailor and Howell pulled off a double steal, but Splittorff again got two outs to strand runners at second and third.
After that, Splittorff settled in. He retired 14 of the next 17 hitters after that Patek error, with a double play erasing one of the runners who reached base. It wasn’t until the eighth that he weakened a bit.
In that inning, with one out, Howell drew a walk and Otto Velez singled. Reliever Larry Gura took over, retiring Ron Fairly on a fly ball, followed by reliever Mark Littell retiring pinch-hitter Sam Ewing on a ground ball to end the inning. Littell then worked around a two-out walk in the ninth to notch his sixth save of the year.
Offensively, the Royals piled up 11 hits, 10 of them coming against Blue Jays starter Jerry Garvin. Like Toronto, it took Kansas City a bit to get going on offense. The Royals left two runners on in the first inning. They didn’t get a run until the fourth, when Al Cowens doubled and scored on a John Mayberry single.
Kansas City broke the 1-1 tie in the sixth. Amos Otis led off with a single, then Cowens drew a walk. Cowens was picked off first, but Garvin issued a walk to Mayberry. Joe Zdeb singled, scoring Otis. With two outs, Buck Martinez doubled to score Mayberry for a 3-1 lead.
The Royals then added a run in the eighth, as Cowens led off with a single and scored on Patek’s two-out double.
With the win, the Royals improved to 21-23 on the season. They remained in sixth place in the AL West, 6.5 games out of first place.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 baseball news: In Cleveland, Indians pitcher Dennis Eckersley throws a no-hitter, leading his team to a 1-0 victory over the California Angels. Eckersley allowed one walk, and California’s Bobby Bonds reached first on a wild pitch on strike three, but he was erased on a double play. The 22-year-old Eckersley racked up 12 strikeouts. California’s Frank Tanana was the hard-luck loser; he only allowed five hits himself. The game’s only run came in the bottom of the first, when Duane Kuiper tripled with one out and scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Jim Norris. In Eckersley’s previous start, he held the Seattle Mariners hitless for the final 7 ⅔ innings.
Today’s birthdays: Mike LaCoss (1956), Brett Phillips (1994)