The Royals scored two runs in the eighth for a 5-3 win over the Indians on Wednesday night at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.
After Cleveland had whittled away at the Royals’ early 3-0 lead, Kansas City came to bat in the eighth having done nothing against Indians starter Jim Bibby since the first inning. Almost literally nothing, as Bibby had retired 19 of the previous 20 hitters, including 16 straight. His domination continued as he got two outs to start the eighth, but Tom Poquette kept the inning alive with a single. Pinch-runner Amos Otis stole second and advanced to third when catcher Ray Fosse threw the ball into center field. Hal McRae singled to give the Royals a 4-3 lead. McRae then stole second and scored on Pete LaCock’s single.
Bad Cleveland defense aided the Royals in the first inning, as well. With one out, Bibby hit McRae with a pitch, but McRae was caught trying to steal second. Shortstop Frank Duffy kicked LaCock’s grounder, keeping the inning alive. Bibby walked Joe Lahoud before John Mayberry launched his 18th home run of the season, giving Kansas City a 3-0 lead.
Royals starter Paul Splittorff dodged trouble all night, as Cleveland collected seven hits before he was lifted in the fourth. The Indians got one run back in the second, as Bruce Bochte led off with a single and Ray Pruitt followed with a walk. Fosse bunted the runners up a base, and Duffy walked to load the bases. Duane Kuiper’s groundout scored Bochte, but Splittorff struck out Buddy Bell to end the inning.
Marty Pattin took over for Splittorff to get the Royals out of a jam in the fourth and pitched a scoreless fifth before Cleveland got a single tally in the sixth. Jim Norris, hitting for Pruitt, started the inning with a double, and Fosse again put down a sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Larvell Blanks hit a sacrifice fly to cut the KC lead to 3-2.
Andre Thornton homered with one out in the seventh to tie the score. But Pattin retired the next five hitters before running into trouble in the ninth as he tried to finish out the win. Kuiper and Bell started the inning with walks, and reliever Doug Bird took over. He got pinch-hitter John Lowenstein to ground into a force out, then induced a popup from Thornton and a fly ball from Rico Carty to preserve the win and pick up his fifth save of the year.
With the win, the Royals improved to 65-51. They remained in fourth place in the AL West, although they were only 1.5 games out. Texas won and Minnesota lost, with Chicago idle, so the Rangers moved into first place by a half-game over the Twins and White Sox.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: Thousands of Elvis fans gathered outside Graceland Mansion to mourn the passing of the King of Rock’n’Roll. Memphis police estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people passed by the open casket that was located just inside the mansion’s doorway. Thousands more were turned away when police closed the gates to the property at 6:30 pm. Hundreds of people fainted in the stifling heat but the crowd was undeterred.