This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: October 6

The Yankees evened up the ALCS behind Ron Guidry’s three-hitter, adding a three-run sixth inning on their way to a 6-2 win in Game Two.

Guidry only allowed a double and two singles, although he did also issue three walks. The rookie left-hander, just 22 years old, struck out seven as he pitched a complete game in his postseason debut.

Despite that, the Royals scored first, pushing across a run in the third inning. Darrell Porter led off with a walk, and Frank White singled, moving Porter to third. Freddie Patek hit a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. But White was thrown out trying to steal second, and Hal McRae struck out to end the inning.

Royals starter Andy Hassler held New York to one hit through the first four innings, but Cliff Johnson homered with one out in the fifth to tie the game. With two outs, Willie Randolph singled. Hassler balked, moving Randolph to second, and Bucky Dent singled to put the Yankees in front, 2-1.

The top of the sixth was marked by a controversy that underscored the disdain these two teams had for each other. With one out, Patek doubled, and McRae drew a walk. George Brett hit a grounder to third. Graig Nettles made the throw to second baseman Randolph, who had no time to react as McRae barreled into him. As the two untangled, Patek raced home with the tying run. The Yankees and manager Billy Martin argued vehemently for an interference call, but the play stood. This followed McRae stealing second in the first inning, with shortstop Dent picking up a hard-luck error when McRae chopped him on the arm and knocked the ball out of his glove.

“I took the throw from Nettles and jumped back from the bag,” Randolph said. “The next thing I knew he was on the ground and the ball was loose and when I tried to get the ball I was restricted from moving. I’m not accusing him of trying to hurt me but the play was over and he was out. It wasn’t even a rolling body block, just a low block. You see hard slides and uncalled-for slides and that wasn’t called for. He did it to me early last year and I hurt my wrist. I definitely would have said something to him but he was gone. I’ve got to protect myself and next time I’ll throw it right between his eyes.”

McRae shrugged it off, saying, “I’ve got three feet on each side of the base when I slide if he’s close to the base. If you’re going to knock him down, you’ve got to step up into him. If you slide, he just jumps over you. I’m not trying to hurt him, but I’m not trying to make it easy for him. I’m competitive. I used to do this in the National League when I played there. I want to win and that’s all there is to it.”

The Yankees credited the incident with getting them fired up, but Hassler retired two of the first three hitters in the sixth before Mark Littell replaced him. Lou Piniella greeted Littell with a single, advancing Thurman Munson to third. Johnson doubled to break the tie, and the Royals intentionally walked Chris Chambliss to load the bases. The strategy looked like it had paid off when Randolph hit a grounder to third, but the ball went right between Brett’s legs and into left field, allowing two runs to score.

New York added a run in the eighth when Reggie Jackson led off with a single, then stole second. He moved up to third on a fly ball and scored on Randolph’s single. Guidry didn’t need the extra support, though, as he worked around Brett’s one-out single in the ninth to end the game and tie the series at one game apiece.

The two teams then had to fly back to Kansas City, as the series had no off-days in the schedule. There was a threat of rain in the forecast for Friday night, so it was not a sure thing Game Three would be played as scheduled.

Box score and play-by-play:

1977 baseball news: Unlike the ALCS, the NLCS did have a travel day. Los Angeles and Philadelphia were headed to the East Coast for the final three games of their series, which was tied at 1-1 also.

Today’s birthdays: Jerry Grote (1942), Jay Baller (1960), Ed Pierce (1968), Nick Pratto (1998)

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