This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: August 22

One, two, three, and a win. The Royals scored one run in the seventh, two in the eighth, and three in the ninth to complete a comeback win over Baltimore, 8-7, in walkoff fashion on Monday night at Royals Stadium.

Baltimore held a 6-2 lead when the Royals came to bat in the seventh. To make matters worse for the Royals, Orioles ace Jim Palmer was on the mound and dominating, having allowed just two hits in the first six innings and on a streak of 10 straight outs. But Al Cowens led off the inning with a home run, his 18th of the year. Darrell Porter added a two-out double, but was stranded at second.

In the eighth, Frank White led off with a triple. With one out, Hal McRae hit a sacrifice fly, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 6-4. George Brett, whose plate appearance in the first inning was interrupted by Morganna, the “Kissing Bandit,”* followed with a double, and Dick Drago was summoned from the bullpen. But Cowens doubled to score Brett, and Drago departed in favor of Tippy Martinez, who got the last out to keep Baltimore ahead, 6-5.

*For the uninitiated, Morganna was an, um, physically gifted exotic dancer who periodically liked to sneak onto the field at baseball games and give star players a kiss on the cheek before security could intervene. The 1970s were a wild time.

Baltimore added an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Andy Hassler, who had taken over for ineffective starter Dennis Leonard after the third inning, started the inning but was replaced during Rick Dempsey’s plate appearance by Steve Mingori, who ultimately issued ball four to Dempsey. Al Bumbry hit a grounder to third, where Brett made a bad throw to second. The runners ended up at second and third. But Mingori escaped with minimal damage, getting a popup, a sacrifice fly from Lee May, and a groundout, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth with the Orioles ahead, 7-5.

John Wathan singled with one out in the ninth, and Amos Otis worked a walk from Martinez. White doubled, bringing both runners home and tying the game. Dennis Martinez replaced Tippy Martinez on the mound, and retired pinch-hitter Joe Lahoud for the second out. McRae hit a grounder up the middle. Shortstop Mark Belanger made a diving stop, but took a second to get to his feet. White never stopped running and slid home just ahead of Belanger’s throw, earning roars of approval from the crowd of 36,328.

Leonard had been on a strong streak of starts, but the Orioles battered him for five runs in the first three innings. After a scoreless first, Eddie Murray started the second with a double. Andres Mora brought him home with a single. Belanger doubled with one out for another run, and Bumbry’s two-out single made the score 3-0.

Ken Singleton led off the third with a walk, followed by a May single. Leonard hit Murray with a pitch. He was able to limit the damage by getting sacrifice flies from Mora and Doug DeCinces before Belanger grounded out, but Baltimore held a 5-0 lead.

The Royals got their first baserunner when Freddie Patek walked with one out in the third. Patek stole second and scored on Kansas City’s first hit, a Tom Poquette single. After a passed ball moved Poquette to second, McRae doubled, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 5-2.

Hassler did a good job of keeping the Royals in the game, pitching five innings and allowing just three hits, although one of those was a Mora home run leading off the sixth. 

With the win, their sixth in a row, the Royals improved to 70-51. They remained in first place in the AL West, one game ahead of Chicago and Minnesota and 1.5 games ahead of Texas.

Box score and play-by-play:

Today’s birthdays: Hipolito Pichardo (1969), Dusty Wathan (1973), Hunter Dozier (1991)

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