The Royals picked up their fifth win in a row, scoring single runs in each of the first four innings and letting Dennis Leonard do the rest in a 5-1 win over the Yankees on Saturday night in front of the second-largest crowd to date in Royals Stadium history.
Kansas City started the scoring when George Brett led off the first inning with a triple against Yankees starter Mike Torrez. Right fielder Reggie Jackson almost made a nice running catch on the ball but it popped out of his glove. Brett scored when Pete LaCock grounded out.
In the second, Tom Poquette doubled with one out and scored on Freddie Patek’s single with two outs. In the third inning, Hal McRae worked a walk with one out and LaCock singled. With two outs, John Mayberry singled to drive in McRae for a 3-0 lead.
Darrell Porter led off the fourth with a single and moved up to second on a bunt. With two outs, Brett singled to push the Kansas City lead to 4-0.
Leonard allowed three singles in the first five innings before New York came up with an unearned run in the sixth. Bucky Dent singled to start the inning. Mickey Rivers tried a bunt, and Porter threw the ball away, allowing Dent to reach third. Roy White hit a sacrifice fly to score Dent. But Leonard got Thurman Munson to ground into a double play and the inning was over.
The Yankees would only get three more singles the rest of the way. Leonard struck out five and didn’t walk anyone as he evened his record at 9-9.
Kansas City added an insurance run in the seventh on another defensive miscue from Jackson. Facing reliever Sparky Lyle, McRae hit a ball to the gap in right center. As he sped toward third, Jackson had trouble picking up the ball, and McRae continued home to give the Royals a 5-1 lead.
The crowd of 40,054 pushed Kansas City’s attendance over the one million mark for the season in their 47th home game. They were the third team in the AL to reach that mark, behind New York and Boston. The Royals were also nearly 58,000 fans ahead of their pace from 1976, when they drew a then-record 1,680,265 fans.
With the win, the Royals improved to 50-38. They also picked up a game on AL West leaders Chicago, putting Kansas City just 2.5 games back in second place.
Box score and play-by-play:
Today’s birthdays: Terry Pendleton (1960), Jorge Vasquez (1978)