This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: June 4

Comebacks were the order of the day as the Royals split a Saturday doubleheader with Baltimore at Royals Stadium. Kansas City’s comeback attempt fell just short in the first game, which the Orioles won, 5-4. In the second game, Baltimore fought back from a 10-4 deficit to tie it, only for the Royals to win, 14-13, in 10 innings.

In the first game, Baltimore took a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. Starter Jim Colborn gave up singles to Pat Kelly, Tony Muser, and Rick Dempsey to start the inning. Colborn retired the next two hitters but Al Bumbry drove in two runs with another single.

The Orioles stretched the lead in the sixth. Ken Singleton started that inning with a single. With one out, Kelly and Muser singled again, although Singleton was thrown out at home trying to score. But Dempsey followed with his first home run of the year, a three-run shot.

Orioles starter Dennis Martinez had issued four walks and allowed three hits in the first five innings, but Kansas City could not break through until the sixth. Singles by John Mayberry, Tom Poquette, and Darrell Porter cut the deficit to 5-1.

Martinez finally weakened in the eighth. With one out, Mayberry reached first when Martinez dropped his popup. Back-to-back triples by Cowens and Poquette produced two runs. Porter hit a sacrifice fly and quickly it was a 5-4 game.

But the Royals could not catch up. Patek popped up to end the eighth, and Martinez retired the side in order in the ninth.

The second game was an offensive onslaught from the beginning. Baltimore got one run in the first off Royals starter Paul Splittorff, who managed to strand runners at first and third to limit the damage. The Royals roughed up Orioles starter Rudy May for three runs in their half of the inning. George Brett walked with one out, and Amos Otis singled. Cowens continued his big day with a three-run home run, his ninth round-tripper of the season.

Baltimore promptly jumped back in front in the second with three runs, thanks to four singles and a walk. But the Royals put up seven runs in the bottom of the second. Frank White led off with a single, and Dave Nelson walked with one out. Brett singled to drive in one run, took second on the throw home, and that ended May’s evening. Reliever Dyar Miller took over, only to see Otis produce a run-scoring single. Otis stole second, leading Baltimore to issue an intentional walk to Cowens. Hal McRae singled for two runs, and reliever Tony Chevez took over. That didn’t work, either; Mayberry belted his eighth homer of the season to give the Royals a 10-4 lead.

Baltimore got two more runs in the third with a two-out rally. Rich Dauer singled and Dave Skaggs tripled for one run. Bumbry grounded back to the mound, but Splittorff made a poor throw to first and Skaggs scored. Reliever Marty Pattin replaced Splittorff and got the final out of the inning, with the score now 10-6.

Chevez and Pattin were able to calm down the game a bit. Buck Martinez led off the bottom of the fifth with a home run. Pattin finally tired a bit in the sixth; Bumbry and Singleton singled ahead of Lee May’s home run, which made the score 11-9. Mark Littell finished out the inning. 

But Littell couldn’t hold the lead in the seventh. Brooks Robinson led off with a walk and Billy Smith homered to tie the score at 11-11.

Kansas City retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh. White led off with a walk, advanced to third on a bunt and a fly ball, and scored on Brett’s single. Then the Royals added another tally in the eighth when Cowens reached on an error by Belanger. McRae doubled to score Cowens and push the lead to 13-11.

But of course, in this game no lead was safe. Littell surrendered two runs in the ninth as Dempsey led off with a walk and Bumbry doubled. A passed ball moved Bumbry to third and he scored on Singleton’s fly ball.

After the Royals left two runners on in the ninth, Larry Gura pitched a perfect top of the 10th. Orioles reliever Mike Flanagan, who had entered the game in the seventh, returned to the mound for the home half of the 10th. Cowens singled, McRae doubled, and after an intentional walk, Joe Zdeb hit a fly ball to center deep enough to score Cowens and end the marathon.

With the split of the two games, the Royals stood at 23-25 on the season. They remained in sixth place in the AL West, seven games behind first-place Minnesota.

Box score and play-by-play (first game):
Box score and play-by-play (second game):

Today’s birthdays: Tony Pena (1957), Kurt Stillwell (1965), Jorge Bonifacio (1993)

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