When the zeroes turned to crooked numbers, things turned bad for the Royals, who lost 6-3 to the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.
Royals starter Dennis Leonard and Blue Jays starter Jerry Garvin matched each other with seven shutout innings to start the game. Leonard struck out 12 while holding Toronto to four hits and a walk in those seven innings. Meanwhile, Garvin had limited Kansas City to four hits while picking up four strikeouts in the first seven innings.
Everything changed in the eighth. Freddie Patek led off the top of the inning with a single and Frank White bunted him to second. Patek stole third and George Brett walked. Hal McRae doubled, scoring Patek with Brett stopping at third. Having surrendered the game’s first run, Garvin departed in favor of Tom Murphy. But Amos Otis doubled, driving in both runners and pushing the Royals’ lead to 3-0. Murphy was able to retire the next two batters, though.
Leonard’s control seemed to desert him in the bottom of the inning. He walked Al Woods and Alan Ashby to start the inning. Dave McKay doubled to score Woods, while pinch-runner Ernie Whitt stopped at third. Steve Staggs hit a grounder to White, who threw home. But his throw was high, and Whitt scored to cut the Royals’ lead to 3-2. Leonard issued his third walk of the inning, to Bob Bailor to load the bases, and reliever Larry Gura took over. But Roy Howell greeted him with a two-run single to put Toronto ahead. Gura struck out Ron Fairly and turned things over to reliever Marty Pattin. Otto Velez hit a sacrifice fly for one more run, and Sam Ewing doubled to score Howell. The Royals called on yet another relief pitcher, Steve Mingori, who struck out Woods to bring the inning to an end at last. When the dust had settled, the Blue Jays had the biggest inning in the short history of their franchise: six runs and a 6-3 lead.
Tom Poquette led off the ninth with a single, but Murphy retired the next two hitters. Darrell Porter singled and the Royals had managed to get the tying run to the plate. But reliever Pete Vuckovich got Brett to fly out to center, ending the game.
The Royals dropped to 64-49 with the loss. Texas beat Chicago while Minnesota also lost, so the White Sox remained in first place in the AL West, by a half-game over Minnesota. Texas was one game out of first, with the Royals in fourth but only 1.5 games out.
Box score and play-by-play:
Today’s birthday: Mark Gubicza (1962)