This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: September 20

The Royals scored all their runs on three home runs, moving closer to an AL West title with a 4-2 win over Minnesota on Tuesday night at Royals Stadium.

However, it was a Twins home run that started the scoring. Butch Wynegar led off the third with a roundtripper off Royals starter Paul Splittorff. The Twins would also get a two-out single and a walk in the inning, but Splittorff got a Dan Ford ground ball to escape the situation.

George Brett answered that home run with one of his own, starting the fourth inning with a blast off Twins starter Geoff Zahn to tie the game. Minnesota responded with a run in the top of the fifth. With one out, Bob Randall singled and Willie Norwood doubled, giving the Twins a 2-1 advantage.

That lead didn’t last long, either. With two outs in the fifth, Joe Zdeb drew a walk. Hal McRae followed with his 19th home run of the season, and the Royals were back on top with a 3-2 lead.

Splittorff settled in after the Norwood double, holding the Twins to one hit the rest of the way. In fact, he retired 14 of the last 15 Minnesota batters, and 12 in a row to end the game. He picked up his 15th win of the year with a six-strikeout, two-walk performance.

Brett gave his pitcher an insurance run in the eighth when he homered off reliever Tom Johnson. That gave the third baseman 21 homers for the season. The Royals ultimately left the bases loaded that inning, but Splittorff made sure it didn’t matter with three groundouts in the ninth.

With the win, the Royals improved to 94-55. They remained 10.5 games clear of their closest pursuers in the AL West; that was now the Chicago White Sox, who slipped past Texas to claim second place. Kansas City’s magic number to clinch the division was now down to two.

Before the game, the Royals announced the Wednesday night game against Minnesota would be shown locally on TV, on Channel 41, in appreciation of the fans who had helped set the team’s single-season attendance record. The team also announced that World Series ticket requests needed to be mailed in with a postmark before September 26. Ticket prices would be $10 for reserved seats and $8 for general admission. Fans would be limited to four tickets per order and one game only. The American League representative was scheduled to host Games 1 and 2 on October 11 and 12, and Games 6 and 7, if necessary, on October 18 and 19.

Box score and play-by-play:

1977 baseball news: The first division champion was crowned as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated San Francisco and claimed the NL West title. The Dodgers raced out to a 22-4 start and very nearly led the race wire-to-wire; they had three days in the first week of the season when they were one game out of first. The Dodgers’ title meant baseball would have a new champion, as the Cincinnati Reds, winners of the two previous World Series, were now eliminated from the postseason race.

Today’s birthdays: Bob Detherage (1954), Angel Sanchez (1983)

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