This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: June 14

The Royals couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead, losing to the Yankees 4-2 on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Royals starter Andy Hassler and Yankees starter Don Gullett were sensational for the first four innings. New York collected just one infield hit and a walk; Kansas City was held to a walk in those frames.

That changed for both pitchers in the fifth. Al Cowens started the top half of the inning with a triple. Amos Otis drove him in with a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Darrell Porter hit his fifth home run of the season for a 2-0 lead.

But it didn’t last long. Lou Piniella and Paul Blair each singled to start the bottom of the fifth. George Zeber hit a fly ball to medium left field; Piniella, never known for his speed, surprised everyone in the park by tagging up and trying for third. Left fielder Joe Zdeb’s throw was offline and Piniella was safe, with Blair alertly advancing to second. The daring baserunning paid off when Bucky Dent hit a sacrifice fly to get the Yankees on the board. Royals shortstop Freddie Patek made a throwing error on Willie Randolph’s grounder, and the game was tied at 2-2.

Hassler worked out of trouble in the seventh, leaving two men on after a walk and a single with one out, but could not escape an eighth-inning jam. Randolph and Mickey Rivers started the inning with singles. Hassler then threw a wild pitch to move the runners up a base. He struck out Thurman Munson, then intentionally walked Chris Chambliss. Hassler was behind Roy White 3-0 when manager Whitey Herzog decided he’d seen enough and summoned Larry Gura from the bullpen. But the reliever’s first pitch also missed the strike zone, forcing in the lead run. Piniella followed with an RBI single to give New York a 4-2 lead. Although Gura escaped without further damage, the Royals could not take advantage of Patek’s leadoff double in the ninth. Gullett retired the next three hitters to close out his complete game win.

The loss dropped the Royals to 28-30. They fell back into sixth place in the AL West, 5.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins.

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Jerry Spradlin (1964), Bobby Witt Jr. (2000)

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