The Royals split a Sunday doubleheader with the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum, losing the first game 7-3 despite collecting 15 hits and riding a six-run fifth inning to a 9-3 win in the second game.
The Royals went 3-11 with runners in scoring position in the first game. They were not retired in order during any inning in that game, but could not take advantage of several scoring chances. They did jump on top in the second inning, as Amos Otis singled off Oakland starter Vida Blue with one out and then stole second. With two outs, Freddie Patek singled for a 1-0 lead.
The A’s answered right away, as Earl Williams led off with a single in the bottom of the second. With one out, Kansas City starter Paul Splittorff walked Mike Jorgensen and Tony Armas to load the bases. Jeff Newman’s single scored two runs, and Rob Picciolo’s groundout scored a third.
Oakland added two runs in the fifth. Newman led off with a double and scored when second baseman Dave Nelson dropped the throw at first base after Picciolo put down a bunt. Another bunt and a wild pitch moved Picciolo to third, and yet another bunt, from Marty Perez, scored Oakland’s fifth run.
Hal McRae led off the eighth with a home run to pull the Royals back to within three runs, and the Royals had a great chance to get closer as John Wathan doubled with one out, followed by an Otis single. But reliever Bob Lacey took over for Blue and ended the threat by getting a double play grounder from Joe Zdeb.
Oakland then scored two in the bottom of the inning to salt the game away. After Williams led off with a walk, singles from Manny Sanguillen and Jorgenson loaded the bases and ended Splittorff’s afternoon. Reliever Doug Bird got a fly ball from Armas, scoring one run, but Newman singled to drive in one more.
McRae drove in George Brett with a single in the ninth, but it was not nearly enough to keep the Royals from a loss.
In the second game, Oakland took an early lead thanks to Royals starter Marty Pattin’s wildness. Mitchell Page worked a walk with two outs, then stole second. He scored on a pair of wild pitches. Pattin settled in and kept the score 1-0 until the Royals broke through in the fifth.
Unlike the first game, the Royals were not collecting hits left and right against A’s starter Rick Langford, who allowed just two singles in the first four innings. But in the fifth, Kansas City started the inning with four straight singles, from Darrell Porter, Pete LaCock, Patek, and Frank White, tying the game at 1-1 and chasing Langford from the game. Reliever Pablo Torrealba entered the game in an unenviable situation and made it worse by walking pinch-hitter Zdeb to force in a run. McRae singled to drive in two more runs, and with one out, John Mayberry hit a grounder to third baseman Wayne Gross, who made a bad throw to second. Zdeb scored on the play, while McRae ended up at third. Al Cowens hit a grounder that scored McRae, and the Royals had a 6-1 lead.
Pattin lasted into the seventh, when Armas singled and Williams doubled to start the inning. Reliever Larry Gura took over and got two groundouts, with Armas scoring on the first. Perez picked up an RBI with a two-out single, pulling the A’s to within 6-3 before Gura got the final out of the inning.
But the Royals turned the tables on the A’s, scoring three insurance runs in the ninth for a comfortable margin. Facing Oakland reliever Joe Coleman, Brett singled with one out and stole second. He scored on Cowens’ single, with Cowens moving up to second on the throw home. From there, a wild pitch moved Cowens up to third, and Porter singled for an 8-3 lead. Porter then stole second and scored on Pete LaCock’s single.
Although an error, a single, and a walk loaded the bases for the A’s in the bottom of the ninth, Gura slammed the door by retiring the last two batters to get KC a split.
The Royals ended the day with a 36-34 mark. They were in third place in the AL West, 3.5 games behind first-place Minnesota.
Box score and play-by-play (first game):
Box score and play-by-play (second game):
1977 news: While the Royals were on the road, Royals Stadium hosted a music festival featuring REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Little River Band, and Black Oak Arkansas. Roughly 41,000 people attended Summer Jam 77. Things got a bit ugly at the end of the eight-hour concert, and police made 18 arrests after a man drove his car through a chain-link fence outside the stadium and other fans began throwing bottles at the officers arresting him.
1977 news: Speaking of concerts, although no one knew it at the time, Elvis Presley performed his final concert, at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Elvis was scheduled to resume touring in mid-August, but, well…you know. Or if you don’t, we’ll cover that when the time comes.
1977 baseball news: Minnesota’s Rod Carew boosted his batting average above the .400 mark, to .403, with four hits in the Twins’ 19-12 slugfest win over Chicago. Carew drove in six runs and scored a club-record five runs in the win. Carew had won four straight AL batting titles before being narrowly edged out by Brett in 1976 and looked intent on reclaiming his crown.
Today’s birthdays: Jason Kendall (1974), Luis Hernandez (1984)