Following a 1-5 road trip where they allowed 44 runs, the Royals needed a well-pitched game. And they got it from Paul Splittorff, as Kansas City opened a homestand with a 7-4 win over Toronto on Wednesday night.
Splittorff allowed six hits and two walks in the first eight innings before he weakened in the ninth. By then, the issue had been decided thanks to four-run and three-run outbursts by the Royals’ offense. The veteran lefthander got some help from his defense, as two Blue Jays were thrown out at home in the first four innings. Hector Torres led off the third with a single and took second on a bunt, but was thrown out by left fielder Joe Zdeb when he tried to score on Bob Bailor’s single. In the fourth, Otto Velez led off with a double and reached third on a groundout. But Ron Fairly hit a ground ball to first baseman John Mayberry, who threw home to cut down Velez.
The Royals failed to cash in two runners in the first and second innings, but came through in the fourth. Mayberry drew a walk from Toronto starter Jerry Garvin to start the inning. With one out, Freddie Patek singled and Frank White blasted a Garvin pitch into the Toronto bullpen for a 3-0 lead. George Brett followed with another home run to make it 4-0.
Toronto got on the board in the fifth. Al Woods led off with a single but was forced out at second on a Torres grounder. Alan Ashby doubled to score Torres. But Splittorff got two more groundouts to keep the Jays at one run.
The Royals added to the lead in the seventh. With one out, Mayberry singled. Joe Zdeb brought him home with a double. Patek singled, with Zdeb stopping at third and Patek moving up to second when the throw went through to home. Pete Vuckovich took over for Garvin, but White’s grounder to second turned into disaster for Toronto when Steve Staggs tried a throw to third. The throw was wild, and Zdeb and Patek both scored, pushing KC’s lead to 7-1.
Splittorff seemed to weaken in the eighth. Bailor led off with a double and Velez walked. With one out, Fairly singled to drive in one run. Doug Ault’s single loaded the bases and brought Doug Bird out of the bullpen. With two outs, pinch-hitter Roy Howell doubled to score two runs. It looked like another potential disaster for Kansas City pitching, but Bird retired Ashby on a groundout to end the inning, then retired Toronto in order in the ninth to pick up his first save of the year.
With the win, the Royals improved to 57-45. They remained in third place in the AL West, but picked up a game on first-place Chicago. Kansas City was now 4.5 games behind the White Sox, with Minnesota 2.5 games back and Texas tied with the Royals.
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