This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: September 14

Two days off didn’t hurt the Royals any, as they swept a doubleheader against the A’s to run their winning streak to 14 games on Wednesday at Royals Stadium.

Kansas City scored two runs in each of the first two innings in the first game on their way to a 5-2 win. With two outs in the first inning, George Brett singled off Oakland starter Rick Langford. Al Cowens followed with his 22nd home run of the year.

In the second inning, the Royals loaded the bases with no outs. Darrell Porter led off with a single, Amos Otis drew a walk, and Freddie Patek singled. With one out, Tom Poquette singled to drive in two runs. Hal McRae reached on an error, but Brett grounded into a forceout and Cowens hit a popup to end the inning. Still, the Royals held a 4-0 lead.

Royals starter Jim Colborn took a while to settle in. Perhaps that was because he had thought he was starting the second game. Manager Whitey Herzog called Colborn at home about 4:20 pm to inquire as to his whereabouts before the 5 pm first pitch.

“I jumped in my car. I know I was hitting 85 (mph) on the way in,” Colborn said. “I got here at 4:30 and began warming up at 4:45.”

Colborn worked around two runners in each of the first two innings, but Oakland scored in the third. With one out, Mitchell Page singled and stole second. Mike Jorgensen homered to cut the Royals’ lead in half.

But Colborn retired 12 of the next 16 hitters, with one reaching on an error. He was also helped by a couple of Oakland baserunning mistakes. Rodney Scott started the fifth with a single but was thrown out trying to steal second. With two outs in the seventh, Rob Picciolo singled, but the inning ended when he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

The Royals tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. Brett led off with a triple and scored on John Mayberry’s single for a 5-2 lead. Colborn walked Page to start the eighth, but Larry Gura got a double play and retired the next four hitters as well to pick up his 10th save of the year.

The second game followed a similar script, as Kansas City scored in each of the first four innings and earned a 6-0 win. With two outs in the first, Brett started another rally with a single, this one off Oakland starter Matt Keough. Cowens drew a walk and Mayberry singled for a 1-0 lead.

Kansas City’s biggest inning of the game was the second. With one out, Patek singled and stole second. Frank White singled, moving up to second on the throw to third. Tom Poquette’s triple scored both runners, and McRae doubled to give the Royals a 4-0 lead.

Mayberry led off the third with a single, then stole second with one out, his first (and, as it turned out, only) stolen base of the season. Otis doubled to bring him home with a 5-0 lead. 

In the fourth, McRae singled with one out, and two-out singles by Cowens and Mayberry increased the Royals’ lead to 6-0. With a doubleheader also scheduled for Thursday, Oakland manager Bobby Winkles reluctantly removed Keough from the game, putting Bob Lacey on the mound. It paid off, as Lacey retired four straight and then worked around a McRae triple in the sixth. 

But Joe Zdeb hit Lacey with a line drive in the seventh. It turned out to be the last out of the inning, but Winkles said he had little choice but to replace him with catcher Jeff Newman for the eighth inning.

“No, he didn’t ask to go in and pitch,” Winkles said. “I selected him. You’ve got to pick someone. I can’t waste my only reliever, (Doug) Bair, on a 6-0 game when I might need him in tomorrow’s doubleheader. Newman throws strikes in batting practice. I figure he can go in there like batting practice and have them hit it at someone.”

But Newman hit McRae with a pitch to start the eighth. The Royals’ DH had now been plunked 12 times on the season, and was somewhat annoyed.

“He’s a catcher and should stay behind the plate,” McRae said. “I knew it was going to happen before I went up there.”

Willie Wilson ran for McRae, but nothing came of it. Brett singled, but Newman, throwing a knuckleball, retired the next three hitters.

Royals starter Dennis Leonard won his 17th game of the season, scattering eight hits over his nine innings. He only struck out three but had little trouble with the struggling Oakland offense. The A’s had a great scoring chance in the first inning, as one-out singles from Marty Perez and Page and a walk to Jorgensen loaded the bases. But Leonard got Tony Armas to ground into a double play, ending the threat.

With the two wins, the Royals improved to 89-54. They now held a nine-game lead over Chicago in the AL West and suddenly their magic number to clinch the division was 10.

Box score and play-by-play (first game):
https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA197709141.shtml
Box score and play-by-play (second game):
https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA197709142.shtml

Today’s birthdays: Jerry Don Gleaton (1957), Jake Brentz (1994)

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