The Royals exploded for eight runs in the late innings, turning a tight game into a 9-3 romp over the Red Sox on Friday night at Royals Stadium.
The teams traded runs in the first inning, then settled into what appeared to be a pitchers’ duel. Facing Royals starter Jim Colborn, Fred Lynn doubled with one out in the top of the first. With two outs, walks to Carl Yastrzemski and Carlton Fisk loaded the bases. George Scott singled to left, with all runners moving up one base. Colborn escaped further damage when Butch Hobson lined out to left field.
Boston starter Mike Paxton retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the first. But George Brett, back in the lineup after missing four games with a sore back, hit his 15th home run of the season to tie the score at 1-1.
The game remained tied until the sixth. Hal McRae started the bottom of the inning with a double, followed by another two-bagger from Brett to put the Royals in front. Shortstop Rick Burleson booted Al Cowens’ grounder, allowing Brett to advance to third while Cowens was safe at first. Paxton got two outs and it looked like he might get out of the jam with only one run scoring. But Amos Otis had other ideas, belting a three-run home run for a 5-1 lead.
The Royals continued their onslaught in the seventh. Frank White led off with a single off Red Sox reliever Jim Willoughby, who had finished out the sixth after the Otis home run. Tom Poquette bunted White to second. McRae hit a grounder to third; Hobson grabbed the ball and threw wildly to second, trying to catch White off the base. White scored on the play, with McRae making it all the way to third. Brett hit a sacrifice fly and Willoughby hit Cowens with a pitch. Bill Lee took over for Willoughby, but John Mayberry hit his 19th home run of the year, and the Royals held a 9-1 lead.
Colborn would pitch a complete game, scattering nine hits and three walks. He struck out four. Boston would pick up four singles in the eighth, after the game was well out of reach, with Fisk and Hobson picking up RBIs. Colborn allowed one hit in the ninth, but got Burleson to hit into a double play, then retired Lynn on a fly ball to end the game.
With the win, the Royals improved to 67-51. They moved up to a tie for third in the AL West standings, which became about as tight as possible. Chicago won, while Minnesota and Texas lost, so the White Sox and Rangers found themselves in a tie for first while the Twins and Royals were each a half-game back.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: Famed comedian Groucho Marx died in Los Angeles due to complications from pneumonia. Marx had been hospitalized almost two months earlier but his condition worsened early on Friday and he was gone within hours. He was 86.