The Royals rode a pair of four-run innings to an 8-3 win over Seattle on Sunday afternoon at Royals Stadium.
Mariners starter Glenn Abbott was perfect through the first four innings. John Mayberry broke that up with a double to start the fifth. Clint Hurdle, making his major-league debut after an exceptional season at Class AAA Omaha, hit his first home run in the majors, a 425-foot shot into the right-field fountains. He became the first Royal to homer in his debut and was also, at the time, the youngest player ever to appear in a Royals uniform.
The fun didn’t end there. Amos Otis drew a walk. Abbott had him picked off first, but threw the ball away, allowing Otis to race to third. Darrell Porter singled for a 3-0 lead. Freddie Patek singled, with Porter advancing to third. Frank White’s sacrifice fly gave the Royals a 4-0 lead, and Abbott was replaced on the mound by Byron McLaughlin, who got the final out of the inning.
Royals starter Dennis Leonard had only allowed two hits in the first four innings. But perhaps the long inning threw him off a bit, as Steve Braun started the fifth with a single. Leonard got the next two hitters, but Leroy Stanton singled and Dan Meyer hit a three-run home run, pulling the Mariners to within a run. Bill Stein followed with a single, but Leonard got out of the inning without further damage.
Kansas City went back to work on offense. Hal McRae and George Brett started the bottom of the fifth inning with singles. Mayberry opened up the game with his 22nd home run of the year, pushing the lead to 7-3. McLaughlin retired the next two batters, but the Royals had one more rally in them. Porter and Patek both singled, and White greeted new pitcher Steve Burke with an RBI single.
Leonard would only allow one more hit, finishing the game by setting down the last seven batters in a row. He improved to 18-11 on the season, giving him a chance at 20 wins.
Meanwhile, the Royals improved to 93-55. They actually lost a half-game off their lead in the AL West as Texas swept a doubleheader, but Kansas City was still comfortably ahead, with a 10.5-game advantage in the standings. Their magic number to clinch the division dropped to four.
With a crowd of 33,397 in the stadium, the Royals set a single-season team record for attendance. They went over 1.7 million in attendance for the season, with six home games remaining.
Box score and play-by-play:
Today’s birthday: Ken Brett (1948)