Not a bad return to the team for George Brett, who delivered a pinch-hit walkoff single as the Royals defeated Milwaukee, 8-7, on Wednesday night at Royals Stadium.
Brett had been out of action since June 29 with cellulitis on his elbow, which developed after he scraped up his elbow a couple of weeks earlier. The infection had become bad enough that team doctors had him come home early from the Royals’ road trip and check into the hospital. Although he was permitted to suit up for this game, manager Whitey Herzog kept him out of the lineup since Brett admitted he had caught a cold in the hospital and felt a bit run-down from that and the lack of exercise.
Herzog picked a great time to deploy his pinch-hitting weapon, though. The Royals had rallied from a 7-2 deficit to tie the game in the seventh. Frank White started the ninth with a walk, then stole second with one out. After Hal McRae walked, Brett hit for Joe Zdeb. On the first pitch from reliever Bill Castro, Brett hit a sharp grounder off first baseman Cecil Cooper’s glove and into right field, bringing White home with the game-winner.
Kansas City was behind almost immediately in this one, as starter Andy Hassler was not sharp. Robin Yount started the game with a single. Hassler hit Jim Wohlford with a pitch. Although Hassler got the next two hitters, Cooper doubled to drive in one run. Sixto Lezcano then singled to drive in two more.
The Royals scratched out one run in the third. Freddie Patek led off with a single and stole second. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on Tom Poquette’s sacrifice fly.
Then the Royals inched closer in the fourth. Pete LaCock led off with a double and reached third on a wild pitch by Brewers starter Moose Haas. With one out, Darrell Porter hit a sacrifice fly to cut the Milwaukee lead to 3-2.
But the Brewers extended the lead in the fifth. Wohlford led off with a single and raced to third when Hassler threw wildly on a pickoff attempt. With one out, Sal Bando singled for a 4-2 lead.
Reliever Marty Pattin got the Royals through the fifth, but surrendered a leadoff triple to Bob Sheldon in the sixth, followed by a Steve Brye home run. With one out, Yount doubled, then reached third on an error by shortstop Patek on Wohlford’s grounder. Yount scored on Don Money’s groundout, and Milwaukee had a commanding 7-2 lead.
But the Royals rallied. McRae started the sixth with a double and reached third on a wild pitch. LaCock brought him home with a sacrifice fly. John Mayberry doubled and Al Cowens homered, and suddenly it was a 7-5 game.
Reliever Sam Hinds finished out the inning for the Brewers, but White singled off him to start the seventh. Bob McClure took over, but Amos Otis hit his eighth home run of the year and the game was tied. That set the stage for Brett’s game-winning hit two innings later.
With the win, the Royals improved to 43-36. They remained in third place in the AL West, still four games out of first place.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: The British Open began in Turnberry, Scotland. Kansas City’s own Tom Watson, who won the 1975 Open, was looking for redemption after missing the cut in the 1976 event. Watson, Jack Nicklaus, and Lee Trevino all shot -2 in the first round, ending the day in a tie for third place. American John Schroeder was atop the leaderboard with a -4 round, followed by England’s Martin Foster at -3. Seve Ballesteros, Gaylord Burrows, and defending champion Johnny Miller all finished the day at -1. The Ailsa Course, famous for its windy conditions, was surprisingly calm on the first day.
Today’s birthdays: Lance Clemons (1947), Andrew Benintendi (1994)