The Royals clinched a tie for the AL West title, scoring six runs in the seventh to blow open a close game as they beat Minnesota, 10-5, on Wednesday night at Royals Stadium.
The teams went back and forth in the first few innings. The Twins scored a run in the first off Royals starter Jim Colborn, thanks to two Kansas City errors. Lyman Bostock singled with one out. Grounders by Butch Wynegar and Glenn Adams resulted in throwing errors by second baseman Frank White and shortstop Freddie Patek, loading the bases. Colborn escaped cheaply enough, with a Rich Chiles fly ball producing the lone run.
The Royals responded in the bottom of the inning against Twins starter Dave Johnson. With one out, Hal McRae singled and stole second. With two outs, Al Cowens tripled and John Mayberry singled, and Kansas City held a 2-1 lead.
Kansas City added single runs in the third and fourth innings. George Brett started the third with a single, and with two outs, Darrell Porter singled to right. When Chiles mishandled the ball, Brett raced home with the Royals’ third run. In the fourth, Patek led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Tom Poquette.
But after getting two outs to start the fifth, Colborn surrendered a home run to Bostock, a single to Wynegar, and a double to Adams. Quickly, the Twins had pulled to within a run at 4-3. But Colborn got Chiles on a fly ball to end the inning and would only allow two more singles before turning the game over to Doug Bird for the ninth.
After leading the bases loaded in the sixth without scoring, the Royals put the game away in the seventh. Reliever Ron Schueler had pulled off that magic trick but wasn’t as fortunate the second time. Cowens started the inning with a walk, and with one out, Porter hit his 16th home run of the year. Amos Otis singled and Patek tripled for another run. White put down a good squeeze bunt and was credited with a single when first baseman Craig Kusick couldn’t handle the throw. White reached third on the error. With two outs, McRae was hit by a pitch and stole second. Brett doubled to score both runners, and Kansas City held a 10-3 lead.
Bird ran into a bit of trouble in the ninth, allowing two runs on two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and a wild pitch, but finally found enough of the strike zone to get Bostock to ground out and Wynegar to hit into a line drive double play, ending the game and assuring the Royals of a share of the division title.
Kansas City improved to 95-55 with the win. Their lead in the AL West was now 11 games over Texas. While the Royals would be idle on Thursday as they headed to the West Coast, they had a chance to clinch the division outright if the Rangers lost to California. Still, with 12 games remaining, the Royals only needed to win one to take the crown for the second straight year.
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