This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: September 27

With the AL West locked up, all the Royals had left to play for was 100 wins. But they missed out on two chances to reach that mark, dropping a doubleheader to the Athletics by scores of 4-2 and 3-2 on Tuesday evening at the Oakland Coliseum.

Oakland won the first game when Jerry Tabb hit a two-run home run off Royals reliever Randy McGilberry in the 15th inning. McGilberry had already pitched one scoreless inning but Mitchell Page singled with one out in the 15th. Page stole second and reached third when catcher John Wathan’s throw went into center field. McGilberry got a groundout for the second out but Tabb ended the game with his sixth home run of the season. 

The first game was mostly a pitchers’ duel between Royals starter Andy Hassler and A’s starter Matt Keough. Hassler held Oakland to six hits over seven innings, walking one and striking out five. Oakland’s two runs came in the sixth, as Rob Picciolo singled with one out. Page followed with a single. Shortstop U L Washington committed a throwing error on Jim Tyrone’s grounder, allowing one run to score, and Tabb hit a sacrifice fly for the second run.

That tied the game at 2-2 after Joe Lahoud hit solo home runs in the second and fourth innings, his first two homers of the season. Keough pitched 10 innings, holding the Royals to seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Lahoud was the only Royal to reach second base through the first eight innings, although the Royals may have run themselves out of a scoring chance in that eighth inning. Pete LaCock started the inning with a single but was thrown out trying to steal second. With two outs, Buck Martinez singled, but pinch-runner Freddie Patek was picked off to end the inning.

The baserunning misadventures continued in the ninth. Dave Nelson doubled with one out and took third on a groundout. But with Clint Hurdle at the plate, Nelson attempted to steal home and was thrown out.

In the second game, the Royals defensive woes continued, costing starting pitcher Dennis Leonard a shot at his 20th win. Kansas City committed two errors, giving them six for the day. Oakland took the lead in the second inning, as Mike Jorgensen led off with a single. Leonard walked Tyrone. Catcher Darrell Porter threw behind Tyrone at first, but threw wildly, and the runners moved up a base. Marty Perez grounded out, bringing Jorgensen home.

Oakland starter Steve McCatty held the Royals to two walks and two singles in the first five innings before KC scored their two runs in the sixth. Frank White started the inning with a walk, ahead of singles by Willie Wilson and Hal McRae to load the bases. George Brett singled to drive in one run. Al Cowens hit a grounder to first base, but Jorgensen mishandled it and Wilson scored to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Steve Dunning replaced McCatty and got John Mayberry to hit a fly ball to center. Tony Armas grabbed it and made a strong throw home to nail McRae at the plate.

The Royals’ lead didn’t last long, as Jorgensen atoned for his error with a home run in the bottom of the sixth, tying the game at 2-2. Oakland took the lead for good in the seventh, thanks to another error. With one out, Leonard hit Sheldon Mallory with a pitch. Jeff Newman singled to center field, but the ball eluded Wilson, and Mallory scored from first.

Kansas City still had a couple of chances to tie the game. In the eighth, McRae led off with a single but was forced out at second on Brett’s grounder. Cowens singled, advancing Brett to third. Reliever Bob Lacey got Wathan to hit a grounder back to the mound, and Brett was caught in a rundown and tagged out, although Cowens was able to reach third and Wathan made it to second. After an intentional walk to Joe Zdeb, Cookie Rojas grounded out to end the inning.

In the ninth, Lacey got the first two hitters but Wilson singled and stole second. Reliever Doug Bair walked McRae but retired Brett on a line drive to center, ending the game.

With the two losses, the Royals dropped to 99-58. They still led the AL West by nine games and would have five more chances to win their 100th game, which would be a first in franchise history.

Off the field, Royals manager Whitey Herzog had to refute a report that he was considering becoming manager of the California Angels. Tracy Ringolsby, writing in the Long Beach Independent Press Telegram, claimed that Angels owner Gene Autry would hire Herzog if the skipper wanted to change jobs. Herzog blasted the report, saying “They start that talk every time we play the Angels. We were just there, so they drummed up the story again. Nobody has talked with me about any job. In fact, the Cowboy (Autry) apologized to me when I saw him down there for these same rumors the press had about me last time we played the Angels in Kansas City. Why would I come out to the coast, about 2,000 miles from home, when I can drive a little more than two miles from Royals Stadium?” Herzog had been a coach for the Angels when the Royals hired him as manager in 1975.

Box score and play-by-play (first game):
Box score and play-by-play (second game):

1977 baseball news: The Philadelphia Phillies wrapped up the NL East title with a 15-9 thumping of the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Combined with Pittsburgh’s loss in the evening, the Phillies had a seven-game lead on their cross-state rivals with five games left. It was the second straight division title for the Phillies, who would face Los Angeles in the NLCS. That left one division up for grabs, and the New York Yankees were closing in on the title, holding a three-game lead over Boston and four games over Baltimore.

Today’s birthdays: Dave Wickersham (1935), Pedro Ciriaco (1985), Vin Mazzaro (1986), Angel Zerpa (1999)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s