The Royals had been waiting for Amos Otis to bust out. A year after finishing seventh in the MVP voting, the star center fielder entered Tuesday’s game against the White Sox at Comiskey Park with a .254/.336/.436 line; fine enough, but not what anyone expected. And they got that game as Otis tripled and homered, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove in five in an 8-3 win.
Otis got Kansas City on the board in the second inning. Al Cowens started the inning with a single but was forced out at second on John Mayberry’s ground ball. Facing Chicago starter Steve Stone, Otis slammed his ninth home run of the year for a 2-0 lead.
Mayberry homered with two outs in the fourth, a solo blast that was his 14th of the season. Otis then drew a walk, stole second, and scored on Darrell Porter’s single.
But Otis produced the big blow of the game in the sixth. Pete LaCock and Cowens started the inning with singles, with Cowens taking second on the throw to third, which was too late to get LaCock. Stone issued an intentional walk to Mayberry to load the bases before giving way to reliever Don Kirkwood. But Otis tripled off the center field fence, scoring all three runners and pushing the lead to 7-1. Porter hit a sacrifice fly to bring Otis home.
Leonard escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third, but other than the Soderholm homer, had little trouble with the White Sox after that. He retired 12 of 15 after that before Chicago scored two unearned runs in the ninth. Third baseman Bob Heise, who had replaced George Brett at the start of the inning, committed two errors, and singles by Lamar Johnson and Ralph Garr produced runs. But Leonard got a double play to end the game and push his record to 8-9.
With the win, the Royals improved to 46-38 and picked up a game on the White Sox. Kansas City was now four games behind Chicago in the AL West, and moved into second place after Minnesota lost to California.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 baseball news: A day after the National League starters were announced, MLB named the American League starters for the All-Star Game, scheduled for July 19 at Yankee Stadium. Brett was the lone Royal to crack the starting nine. He was joined by Minnesota first baseman Rod Carew, who garnered more votes (4,292,740) than any player before him. Carew had pushed his batting average to .411 at the beginning of July, but had cooled off and was batting “just” .393 after the Twins’ loss. The middle infield for the AL would be New York second baseman Willie Randolph and Boston shortstop Rick Burleson. The outfield consisted of Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski, New York’s Reggie Jackson, and Chicago’s Richie Zisk. Boston’s Carlton Fisk won the vote at catcher.
Today’s birthday: Dan Reichert (1976)