This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: June 7

The Royals scored two runs in the ninth for a thrilling comeback win, 5-4, over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night at Royals Stadium.

Trailing 4-3 as they came to bat in the ninth, Kansas City was facing Boston reliever Mike Paxton. Al Cowens singled and Amos Otis walked to start the inning. Darrell Porter’s bunt moved both runners up. The Red Sox countered with an intentional walk of pinch-hitter Cookie Rojas to set up a force at any base, and what they hoped would be a game-ending double play. Paxton got the ground ball he wanted from pinch-hitter John Wathan, only to see it bounce off first baseman George Scott’s glove. Cowens scored the tying run. Joe Zdeb then lined a single into right field to score Otis with the winning run.

Those two runs capped a back-and-forth game that saw Boston take the lead three different times while the Royals came back to tie it twice. The fun started in the fifth, when Boston’s Steve Dillard singled off Royals starter Jim Colborn with two outs, then stole second. Bernie Carbo singled for a 1-0 lead. The Royals responded against Sox starter Fergie Jenkins in the bottom of the inning as Cowens led off with a home run. 

Boston posted another single run in the sixth as Jim Rice started the inning with a home run of his own. The Red Sox then pushed the lead to 3-1 in the seventh as Dillard and Carbo each singled with one out. Fred Lynn greeted reliever Steve Mingori with an RBI single before Mark Littell entered the game and got an inning-ending double play from Rice.

The Royals rallied in the seventh, an inning that featured some controversy. George Brett led off with a walk, but Jenkins got the next two hitters. Otis drew a walk and Porter singled to drive in one run. Reliever Bob Stanley replaced Jenkins. Pinch-hitter Pete LaCock hit a line drive down the left-field line that landed in fair territory and bounced up towards the seats. A fan reached over the railing and touched the ball. Home plate umpire Lou DiMuro ruled that Porter had to stop at third on the ground-rule double, which brought an irate Whitey Herzog out of the dugout. The Royals’ manager was quickly ejected and had to be restrained by other umpires and Royals coaches.

“He had the gall to say (Porter) wouldn’t have scored, that there would have been a play at the plate,” Herzog said after the game. “By the time the ball would have bounced off the wall and (left fielder Carl) Yastrzemski gotten to it, LaCock would have been in with a stand-up triple. That’s the worst call I’ve ever seen in my life. I said five years ago I’d never argue with DiMuro because he is such a bad umpire but I had no choice. That could have cost us the ball game.”

Stanley ended the inning by striking out Frank White, keeping the score at 3-3. The Red Sox then jumped in front as Yastrzemski started the eighth with a walk and scored on a Scott triple. But the Royals were able to emerge triumphant with their ninth-inning rally.

With the win, the Royals improved to 25-26. They jumped into a fourth-place tie with California in the AL West, with both teams six games behind Minnesota.

Box score and play-by-play:

1977 baseball news: MLB held the June amateur draft, with the Chicago White Sox selecting Harold Baines with the first choice. Milwaukee took Paul Molitor with the third overall pick, meaning two future Hall of Famers were drafted in the first three selections (Montreal chose Bill Gullickson with the second pick; he had a solid career too). The Royals, picking 21st, chose pitcher Mike Jones. In fact, the Royals used half of their 24 selections on pitchers. However, of those 12, only Jones and Bill Earley would ever reach the majors.

Today’s birthdays: Roger Nelson (1944), Luke Farrell (1991)

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