The Royals’ Andy Hassler came just about as close to a no-hitter as a pitcher could, but had to settle for a complete-game shutout in Kansas City’s 1-0 win over the Indians on Saturday night at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.
Hassler worked around two errors by third baseman Cookie Rojas in the first two innings, then pitched three perfect innings. With one out in the sixth, Cleveland’s Duane Kuiper hit a high chopper to the third base side of the mound. Hassler snared it but could not get the throw to first in time for the out. But Hassler would retire the next 11 hitters in a row to finish off the second one-hitter of his career. In the first, when he was with the Angels in 1974, he lost to the White Sox by a 1-0 score.
This time, he was on the right side of that score. Cleveland starter Dennis Eckersley, who had already thrown a no-hitter in 1977, was nearly as good as Hassler. He held the Royals to five hits and a walk while striking out eight. The Royals could not capitalize on an Al Cowens single and stolen base in the second, or Pete LaCock’s leadoff double in the fourth. But in the top of the sixth, Hal McRae doubled with one out. LaCock pulled a single into right field, bringing McRae home with the game’s first run.
And only run, as it turned out. Eckersley held the Royals to one single after that, but Hassler was more than up to the task of making the run stand up.
With the win, the Royals improved to 40-35. They remained in third place in the AL West and 2.5 games behind first-place Chicago. The White Sox defeated the Twins, 13-8, to take sole possession of first place.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: Bjorn Borg successfully defended his men’s title at Wimbledon, defeating Jimmy Connors in a classic match, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. The match lasted more than three hours. Borg took a 4-0 lead in the final set, only for Connors to win four straight games himself. But the American, who had become something of a villain to the British crowd after not participating in a parade of former champions to celebrate the tournament’s 100th anniversary, ran out of gas.
Today’s birthdays: Keith Marshall (1951), Tim Spehr (1966)