After giving up two runs in the first inning, the Royals scored 12 unanswered for an easy win over the Indians on Friday night at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.
Royals starter Paul Splittorff did not record an out, as Duane Kuiper led off with a single, followed by a Jim Norris walk and Paul Dade single to load the bases. Rico Carty drove in two runs with a single and manager Whitey Herzog decided he had seen enough. He summoned Marty Pattin from the bullpen. That paid off immediately as Pattin got Buddy Bell to ground into a double play and Andre Thornton on a fly ball to end the inning.
Kansas City got one run back in the second when John Mayberry hit a home run off Cleveland starter Rick Waits. Amos Otis tied the game with a home run to start the fourth inning.
Then the Royals took a commanding lead in the fifth. Frank White started the rally with a leadoff single. He stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Ray Fosse. Hal McRae singled with one out to bring White home. McRae stole second and scored on an Otis double, ending Waits’ outing. Relief pitcher Al Fitzmorris walked Al Cowens, and after he got the second out, surrendered a three-run home run to Joe Zdeb.
Kansas City turned the game into a blowout with four more runs in the sixth. Darrell Porter led off with a double and moved up to third on a fly ball. He scored when Freddie Patek hit a grounder to shortstop Frank Duffy, who made a bad throw home. Patek reached second on the error. After McRae walked, Otis singled for one run and Cowens hit a sacrifice fly to score another. Don Hood replaced Fitzmorris on the mound, but Mayberry singled and Zdeb doubled to produce another run, pushing the Royals’ lead to 11-2.
A White double to score Bob Heise capped the scoring in the ninth inning. Pattin ended up pitching the rest of the game, holding Cleveland to three hits in his nine innings of work. He struck out three and only walked one.
With the win, the Royals improved to 39-35. They remained in third place in the AL West but now were just 2.5 games out of first place, trailing co-leaders Chicago and Minnesota.
Off the field, the Royals sent George Brett back to Kansas City for treatment on an infected elbow. Brett had scraped up his elbow weeks earlier in Minnesota, and the wound kept getting opened up when he slid. He visited a doctor in Cleveland to have fluid drained from it when the infection was discovered. The team expected to be without him for about a week.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: Two men walked into the Riverside County (California) Sheriff’s Office, pointed at a Wanted poster on the wall, and said, “We’re them.” And with that, the rampage of the Trash Bag Killer came to an end. The pair had been on the run for weeks. One of the men, Patrick Kearney, would confess to 35 murders, most of them of young men he had picked up in bars or as hitchhikers. Many of the victims were dumped in trash bags near highways in southern California. Police eventually cleared the other man, David Hill, who lived with Kearney, of any involvement in the crimes. But Kearney would ultimately be given 21 life sentences as part of a plea agreement.
1977 news: In London, Virginia Wade won the women’s final at Wimbledon, defeating Betty Stöve, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. It was an extra-special win for Wade, who was a native of the United Kingdom. She is still the most recent British woman to win the singles title at Wimbledon. As part of her Silver Jubilee celebration, Queen Elizabeth II was on hand to present the silver platter to Wade.
Today’s birthdays: Jamie Walker (1971), Justin Huber (1982), Mike Montgomery (1989)