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OOTP 20 - Historical Simulations Discuss historical simulations and their results in this forum.

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Old 06-11-2019, 07:33 PM   #41
webrian
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Game 111, Wednesday August 10, 1977 ~

At Arlington

Rangers 9, Royals 4

WP: Doyle Alexander (11-5, 3.63); LP: Marty Pattin (5-4, 4.66)

We got an up-close look at the reasons why the Texas Rangers will most likely win the AL West in this 1977 SIM.

The Rangers have a deep starting rotation, an even deeper bullpen, and a lineup of pesky hitters who know how to get on base and score.

Texas scored one or two runs in every inning except the second and the sixth. They didn’t bat in the ninth. Five different Rangers hitters had at least two hits. They drew seven walks as a team. Ron Fairly, who the Rangers recently acquired in a trade with Toronto, hit his first HR for Texas, his 15th of the season overall.

Doyle Alexander wasn’t overpowering. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in just over five innings. But the Royals twice left the bases loaded against him, and another time left runners at second and third.

***

Game 112, Thursday August 11, 1977 ~

At Arlington

Royals 10, Rangers 8

WP: Mark Littell (5-2, 5.96); LP: Adrian Devine (7-6, 2.73)

Hal McRae swatted an oppo-field 2-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to snap an 8-8 tie, and Mark Littell survived a terrifying bottom of the ninth to give us a 1-1 split in Arlington.

The Rangers built an early 5-2 lead on the flaming-hot bat of Ron Fairly, who hit a 2-run homer in the second inning, and then a a 2-run triple in the third off starter Jim Colborn. The Royals quickly tied it with a three-run fourth inning, then took an 8-5 lead with a three-run seventh. Al Cowens played a key role in both of those rallies, with an RBI double in the fourth and a leadoff triple in the seventh.

Colborn shook off his early struggles and held Texas scoreless for four consecutive innings as KC tied the game, then took the lead. But I left him in too long. The Rangers jumped all over Colborn in the bottom of the eighth. Greg Jemison, a speedy young outfielder recently called up from AAA to fill in for an injured Juan Beniquez, ripped a two-run double to tie the game 8-8.

In the bottom of the ninth, with two runners on and two out, the Rangers sent in Roy Howell (.378, 16 HR, 78 RBIs) to pinch hit against a wobbly Littell. But Howell tapped a harmless groundout to second. Whew!

We leave Texas as we came, still 8.5 games out. Now it’s on to Toronto, Boston and Cleveland. All three teams have struggled this season, but anything can happen against our pitching.

***
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Old 06-11-2019, 07:39 PM   #42
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Game 113, Friday August 12, 1977 ~

At Toronto

Royals 5, Blue Jays 0

WP: Dennis Leonard (12-4, 2.60); LP: Dave Lemanczyk (6-15, 5.52)

With the Royals’ infield turning four double plays behind him, Dennis Leonard pitched an easy 5-hit shutout against the Blue Jays, who lost their eighth straight game.

KC had triples in three straight innings from Frank White, George Brett and Darrell Porter, who went 4-for-5 raising his season average to .295.

NOTE: After the game, we called up LHP Andy Hassler from AAA Omaha. He was 1-0 with a 2.42 ERA there in three rehab starts and 22 innings pitched. We’ve been without Hassler since early April when he went down with injury after throwing just 10 pitches in his first start.
We sent down the young and wildly inconsistent Rich Gale. He was 1-3 with 1 save and a 4.47 ERA in the majors. In 46.1 IP, Gale had walked 41 and struck out 44.

Marty Pattin will move from the starting rotation to the bullpen. We hope that will bring some consistency to what has been a diabolically unreliable pen.

***

Game 114, Saturday August 13, 1977 ~

At Toronto

Royals 3, Blue Jays 2

WP: Paul Splittorff (9-9, 4.22); LP: Jim Clancy (0-2, 8.71); Sv: Mark Littell (13, 5.72)

Toronto got an astonishingly good outing from young prospect Jim Clancy. The 21-year old whippersnapper was called up from AAA despite only posting a 6-8 record with a 6.71 ERA at that level. In fact, Clancy walked 98 batters and struck out 77 — in the minors!

He entered this game with a movement rating of 8 (on a 1-20 scale) and a control rating of only 3. But he pitched seven strong innings, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits with 5 walks and 4 strikeouts.

Fred Patek, starting in place of a resting Kiko Garcia, scored on a George Brett sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie. Brett also collected his 21st HR of the season earlier in the game.

Mark Littell got the two-inning save. In the eighth inning, he allowed a single and two walks to load the bases, but got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts. In the ninth, he walked another Blue Jays hitter, but got out of it on a game-ending double play started by Patek.

Otto Velez smacked his 15th HR of the season for Toronto, which has now lost nine in a row.

***

Game 115, Sunday August 14, 1977 ~

At Toronto

Blue Jays 2, Royals 1

WP: Jesse Jefferson (7-12, 6.26); LP: Steve Renko (8-7, 3.94); Sv: Pete Vuckovich (8, 5.95)

The fact we averaged only 3 runs per game against the worst-pitching team in baseball is fairly embarrassing. The offense went completely limp in this one, leaving the door open for a team trying to avoid its 10th straight loss.

We scored our only run on a George Brett sac fly in the top of the third. We had runners at second and third with one out later in the same inning, but left them stranded. Blue Jays’ starter Jesse Jefferson locked into a groove after that, and we just couldn’t touch him. Jefferson didn’t allow another hit after the third inning and worked around a couple of two-out walks on his way to a strong eight-inning performance.

Our 1-0 lead held until the bottom of the eighth. Steve Renko had been equally as good as Jefferson up to that point, but an error by Kiko Garcia at SS let the leadoff runner on. That appeared to rattle Renko, who was also tiring a bit by then.

The Jays loaded the bases, tied the game on a fielder’s choice, then took the lead on Milt May’s 2-out RBI single. May was recently traded to the Jays from, you guessed it, Texas.

John Mayberry got a 2-out, pinch-hit double off Vuckovich in the bottom of the ninth, but then Tom Poquette flew out to CF to end it.

Renko allowed 2 runs (0 earned) on 4 hits and 4 walks over 7.2 innings.

***
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Old 06-11-2019, 07:47 PM   #43
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Game 116, Monday August 15, 1977 ~

At Boston

Red Sox 12, Royals 3

WP: Jim Bibby (4-2, 4.50); LP: Marty Pattin (5-5, 5.15)

Two days after telling Marty Pattin he was being demoted to the bullpen, we had to ask him for a spot start against the Red Sox because the other four starters (including Andy Hassler) were still recovering from recent starts.

No doubt miffed about his pending demotion, Pattin nevertheless went out and demonstrated exactly why he’s being relegated to the pen. He surrendered 5 home runs — 3 of them to Carl Yazsterzymski — and the Sox just blew our doors off. Yaz now has 22 homers and 80 RBI on the season.

Jim Rice homered and tripled, raising his season average to .345 with 30 homers and 115 RBI. He hit a 3-run blast during an 8-run second inning for the BoSox.

I had no choice but to leave Pattin in for as long as I could. He ended up going seven innings, allowing 10 runs on 16 hits. He didn’t walk anyone for a change. He was laying it right in there for them.

With this loss, we fell 10 games behind the Rangers. We’re 20 games OVER .500 in mid August and it still feels like this season is slipping away.

***

Game 117, Tuesday August 16, 1977 ~

At Boston

Royals 12, Red Sox 7

WP: Jim Colborn (15-5, 4.03); LP: Bill Campbell (3-5, 4.95)

The Royals’ No. 2 through No. 5 hitters — Hal McRae, George Brett, Al Cowens & Darrell Porter — went a combined 14-for-22 with 9 RBI and 9 runs scored as KC pounded out 24 hits and got a measure of payback for the previous day’s shellacking.

None of the 24 hits were home runs, but the Royals did rack up six doubles and a triple, including one of each from McRae who now has 39 doubles and 10 triples on the season.

The Royals pulled away from a 6-6 tie with six runs in the top of the eighth inning.

Fred Lynn went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI for the BoSox. He now is hitting .305 with 24 homers and 93 RBI. If the Red Sox had better pitching, they might be running away with the AL East the way Texas is running away with the West. They can sure mash.

We gain no ground on Texas, which got two more homers from Ron Fairly in a 6-1 win at Milwaukee to win its fourth in a row.

CURRENT RECORD: 69-48 (2nd place, 10 games behind Texas)
REAL-LIFE RECORD: 64-51 (4th place, 2 games behind Minnesota, 1.5 games behind both Texas and Chicago)

AROUND THE LEAGUE:



Than Yankees and Rangers are still holding steady atop their respective division in the American League … In the National League, the Chicago Cubs found themselves briefly tied with the Mets in the division lead, but have regained their tenuous hold. Baseball experts still wonder when the Pirates are going to get hot and make their big move. They’ve made a lot of trades and are chock-full of talent. That black and gold cobra is going to strike at some point … In the NL West, the Cincinnati Reds are still in control, but it looks like the L.A. Dodgers have stopped napping and are ready to give chase. The SF Giants have withered a bit in the heat of the race, losing 6 in a row to fall back into third place.

Ok. The Royals are off to Cleveland. We are 4-4 on the current road trip and hoping to finish it with a flourish against the Tribe.

*****
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:54 PM   #44
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Game 118, Wednesday August 17, 1977 ~

At Cleveland

Royals 2, Indians 1

WP: Dennis Leonard (13-4, 2.50); LP: Earl Bass (0-3, 4.17)

Listless offense almost ruined a dominant performance by Dennis Leonard (9 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 K). Fortunately, the Royals pushed two runs across the plate and it turned out to be enough.

Willie Wilson batted leadoff, stole two bases and scored both runs on RBI singles from Al Cowens in the fourth inning and George Brett in the sixth. The Indians got a run back in the bottom of the sixth with Ray Fosse scoring on a Jim Norris sacrifice fly.

***

Game 119, Thursday August 18, 1977 ~

At Cleveland

Royals 5, Indians 1

WP: Andy Hassler (1-0, 1.29); LP: Dennis Eckersley (4-2, 2.23); Sv: Mark Littell (14, 5.50)

LHP Andy Hassler made a triumphant return to the Kansas City Royals’ rotation.

In his first start since leaving an April 11 game with elbow inflammation, Hassler threw 7 strong innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits and 5 walks with 2 strikeouts. He wasn’t razor sharp, but he got outs when he had to. He got the Tribe to roll into two double plays.

Offensively, Hal McRae was the hero again, smacking a tie-breaking 2-run home run in the top of the sixth to give KC a 3-1 lead.

Mark Littell got the two-inning save.

We went 6-4 on this 10-game road trip — and LOST 1.5 games on the relentless Rangers in the standings. We’re not playing bad baseball by any means — we’re 71-48 — but we’ll have to play much, much better and hope the Rangers hit a two-week snag to make a race out of the AL West.

Now we get a brief 5-game homestand against Boston and Baltimore before hitting the road again.

***
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:58 PM   #45
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Game 120, Friday August 19, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 7, Red Sox 6

WP: Larry Gura (3-4, 4.53); LP: Jim Willoughby (6-4, BS 5, 5.72)

Rico Carty hit two homers in this one. The second was a walk-off, 3-run blast with two out in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Royals to their third straight win.

The Royals pulled this one right out of the fire. The Red Sox, as usual, were knocking the crap out of the ball. They chased Paul Splittorff in the fifth inning. Reliever Steve Mingori left the game with an injury after getting five outs. By the time we came to bat in the bottom of the ninth, we were down to our last relief pitcher and losing 6-4.

George Brett drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth. Two outs later, catcher Darrell Porter swatted a double to the LF-CF gap. When Rico Carty came to the plate, I almost pulled him for a pinch hitter. Carty has popped out or struck out in too many of these situations over the season. He had already homered in the fourth inning, but that only fed my doubts. Lightning doesn’t strike twice when it comes to old Rico.

But in this game, it did. Carty’s game-ending shot was a no-doubter deep to left field. Man, we needed that!

Then we check the scoreboard after the game and see that Texas has rallied back from not one, but TWO four-run deficits to beat the Yankees, 11-10, down in Arlington.

The Rangers are 82-38 and have won seven in a row. What can we do?

***

Game 121, Saturday August 20, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Red Sox 6, Royals 2

WP: Jim Bibby (5-2, 4.12); LP: Steve Renko (8-8, 3.95)

The Red Sox broke open a 2-2 game with 4 runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Of course, Jim Rice had something to do with it. He went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, including an RBI single in that pivotal seventh. In his quest for the American League triple crown, Rice is now hitting .348 with 31 home runs and 120 RBI.

Jim Bibby, in his second victory over KC in five days, improved to 5-2 with the Sox and 16-9 overall. He was 11-7 before being traded from Cleveland.

After the game we learned that lefty reliever Steve Mingori has a dead arm and needs to rest a couple of weeks. He was already getting plenty of rest because I lost confidence in him weeks ago — but fine. We called Greg “Gas Can” Shanahan back up from Omaha to fill the vacancy.

***

Game 122, Sunday August 21, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 7, Red Sox 1

WP: Jim Colborn (16-5, ); LP: Luis Tiant (8-11, 6.04)

Jim Colborn broke out of a slump and pitched yet another complete game. The only run he gave up was a solo homer to Bill Madlock in the top of the ninth inning.

Darrell Porter went 3-for-5 with a triple, a home run and a pair of runs scored, raising his average to .304 with 19 bombs and 54 RBI.

We’re lucky to have taken two of three from the Red Sox. No lead ever feels safe against them with the lineup they have.

*****
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:04 PM   #46
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Game 123, Monday August 22, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, Orioles 3

WP: Dennis Leonard (14-4, 2.53); LP: Tippy Martinez (2-7, BS 4, 3.13)

Dennis Leonard gave up 3 runs on just 4 hits and was on his way to losing the game before the Royals rallied for a pair of runs in the eighth to tie and then won it in the ninth.

John Mayberry rolled a seeing-eye, 2-run single through the drawn-in infield with bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game 3-3. In the bottom of the ninth, Kiko Garcia walked it off with a single to left, plating pinch-runner Freddie Patek who came around from second and beat the throw home.

Patek was running for Darrell Porter, who had led the inning off with a double, his second of the game. Porter’s been en fuego lately.

The normally reliable Tippy Martinez blew the win for Scott McGregor, who’d yielded only 1 run on 6 hits over seven innings. The Royals rested George Brett, Al Cowens and Amos Otis, so McGregor cruised through his seven innings. Martinez was wild. In just over one inning, he walked four, allowed three hits and struck out only one.

We finally picked up a game on the Rangers, who lost at home to the Brewers 7-4. Now we trail Texas by nine games.

***

Game 124, Tuesday August 23, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, Orioles 0

WP: Andy Hassler (2-0, 0.56); LP: Mike Parrott (4-7, 4.19)

In just his second start back from injury, Andy Hassler had the best pitching performance of the season for the Royals. He threw a complete game, shutting the O’s out on 6 hits. He walked 1 and struck out a season-high 12.

Kiko Garcia went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored against his former organization. Rico Carty hit his 9th homer. Tom Poquette went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI as well.

We picked up another half game on Texas, which had its home game with Minnesota washed out by rain.

Now we head back out on the road for 3 games at Milwaukee followed by 2 at Baltimore. Then we come back home after a day off (finally) and play Texas for the last two times.

***
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:07 PM   #47
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Game 124, Wednesday August 24, 1977 ~

At Milwaukee

Brewers 8, Royals 6

WP: Bob McClure (4-6, 5.20); LP: Doug Bird (5-3, 3.74); Sv: Bill Castro (14, 4.88)

Cecil Cooper hit a 440-foot 2-run homer (his 23rd) off Doug Bird in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Brewers an 8-6 lead. Bill Castro struck out three batters over the last two innings to make it hold up.

Cooper also tripled in the game. He’s now hitting .338 with 98 RBI.

Milwaukee’s Steven Brye hit his 9th homer and KC’s Amos Otis belted his 13th.

The Brewers (74-56) have now won 7 in a row.

We missed a chance to pick up a game. The Rangers lost 15-8 at Boston.

***

Game 125, Thursday August 25, 1977 ~

At Milwaukee

Royals 7, Brewers 4

WP: Steve Renko (9-8, 3.95); LP: Bill Travers (10-6, 4.33); Sv: Mark Littell (15, 5.47)

George Brett hit a 2-run triple in the top of the sixth inning as part of a 4-for-5 day at the plate. Brett’s 9th triple of the season turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 Kansas City lead.

Lefty-hitting first baseman John Mayberry went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI singles to raise his season average to .277.

Steve Renko pitched just well enough to get the win — plus, we picked up a half game on the idle Rangers, who had already lost 3 in a row.

Right fielder Al Cowens sprained his ankle early in this game. His injury is moderate, but the trainer recommends that he rest for 5-6 days.

***
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:12 PM   #48
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Game 126, Friday August 26, 1977 ~

At Baltimore

Orioles 3, Royals 1

WP: Dennis Martinez (10-8, 2.73); LP: Jim Colborn (16-6, 3.88); Sv: Tippy Martinez (14, 3.00)

Orioles leadoff hitter Pat Kelly went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and a solo home run. He made all the difference in a tense pitching duel between Baltimore’s Martinez and Kansas City’s Jim Colborn.

Kelly’s RBI single broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning. His solo homer in the seventh (No. 11) made it 3-1. Tippy Martinez pitched the last two innings to earn the save.

With this loss, the Royals (76-51) drop into third place in the AL West, by percentage points, after the California Angels (75-50) captured their sixth straight win and ninth out of their past 10 games. The Angels are powered by ace Nolan Ryan, who is now 19-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a league-leading 262 strikeouts.

***

Game 127, Saturday August 27 1977 ~

At Baltimore

Royals 11, Orioles 2

WP: Dennis Leonard (15-4, 2.50); LP: Scott McGregor (7-5, 4.95)

This was a rout from the beginning. Though better days are certainly ahead for 23 year-old LHP Scott McGregor, he didn’t have it for this start against KC. The Royals scored two runs apiece in the first, second and third innings, and the O’s didn’t get their first hit off Dennis Leonard until the bottom of the fifth.

Freddie Patek got a rare start with Kiko Garcia resting and made something of it, going 2-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and a run scored. Darrell Porter slammed his 20th HR of the season and George Brett and Frank White both hit triples.

The Rangers dropped their fifth game in a row, 3-2, at the NY Yankees. Now we and the California Angels (who just won their seventh straight) are just 6.5 games behind the Rangers.

***

Game 128, Sunday August 28, 1977 ~

At Baltimore

Royals 7, Orioles 3

WP: Andy Hassler (3-0, 0.82); LP: Mike Parrott (4-8, 4.35); Sv: Larry Gura (6, 4.25)

The Royals swatted three home runs in the first five innings and Andy Hassler won his third straight start since returning from injury.

George Brett’s 22nd homer of the season, a 3-run bomb in the fifth, gave KC a 7-1 lead. Al Cowens and Rico Carty hit solo shots in the fourth.

Cowens played for the first time in three games since suffering a moderate ankle sprain against Milwaukee on August 25. We put him at DH as a precaution, with Tom Poquette taking his place in RF for the time being.

Larry Gura earned a three-inning save.

Baltimore’s switch-hitting power duo Eddie Murray and Ken Singleton each hit solo homers in this one. Murray now has 24 homers and Singleton has 20.

Meanwhile, the Angels won their eighth straight game and Texas lost its sixth in a row, 6-3 at the Yankees. Both KC and California are now 5.5 games behind.

We get a day off to travel, and then we host Texas for a pair of games at Royals Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday. That will be our last head-to-head encounter with the Rangers, barring any end-of-season tie-breaker.

***
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Old 07-05-2019, 08:51 PM   #49
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Game 129, Tuesday August 30, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Rangers 2, Royals 1

WP: Doyle Alexander (12-6, 4.12); LP: Paul Splittorfff (9-10, 4.44); Sv: Adrian Devine (19, 2.71)

The Rangers literally scratched two runs across the plate and somehow made it hold up, snapping what had been a 7-game skid for Texas.

Doyle Alexander improved to 3-1 against the Royals this year with one no-decision that the Rangers eventually won. He allowed 4 hits and 2 walks over seven innings, then yielded to Adrian Devine, who allowed 3 singles but no runs over the last two innings.

Kansas City wasted Paul Splittorff’s best outing of the season. He allowed just one hit over the first six innings and went the distance allowing only 3 hits and 4 walks with 3 strikeouts.

The Rangers got two runs from their one hit. In the fifth, Ron Fairly drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a Bert Campeneris bunt, scooted to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder to first. In the sixth, Juan Beniquez led off with a double to the RF corner, advanced to third on Mike Hargrove’s groundout to SS, then — after Claudell Washington was pitched around to set up a possible double play — Beniquez scored on a fielder’s choice that looked like it would have been a DP, but the shortstop couldn’t get the ball out of his glove in time.

The Rangers added a couple of meaningless singles in the later innings but needed only one hit to push their first two runs across the plate.

The Royals scored their only run in the third when George Brett, who was 3-for-3 with a walk, singled and later scored from first on Al Cowens’ double.

The loss knocked us 6 games back. Meanwhile, the Angels’ bid for 10 straight wins fell short in a 2-1 loss at Baltimore. They are now 5.5 games behind the Rangers.

We NEED a win tomorrow, but the odds are against us. We face Bert Blyleven (16-3, 2.90 ERA) while countering with Steve Renko (10-8, 3.89). Meanwhile, the Angels will send Nolan Ryan (19-4, 2.88) to the mound in Baltimore against Dennis Martinez (10-8, 2.73).

***

Game 130, Wednesday August 31, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, Rangers 1

WP: Steve Renko (11-8, 3.69); LP: Bert Blyleven (16-4, 2.96)

Steve Renko, man.

The guy we used to deride as “Wreck-It Renko” came at the Rangers with deadly poise and out-dueled Bert Blyleven in a game we had to have.

Renko went the distance, allowing just one unearned run in the ninth inning. He gave up 6 hits and 1 walk with 3 strikeouts. Blyleven also pitched really well, but two-run homers by Hal McRae (No. 10) in the third inning and Rico Carty (No. 11) in the eighth gave KC just enough breathing room to get by.

It was a tense game. KC clung to a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the eighth when Carty jacked a no-doubt-about-it blast deep to LF. That homer gave me the assurance I needed to send a tiring Renko back out in the ninth.

The Rangers opened up the top of the ninth with back-to-back seeing-eye singles, and then they loaded the bases with nobody out when Renko fielded a tapper back to the mound but threw errantly to second. Renko’s endurance meter was in the red, but my gut told me to avoid the bullpen.

I kept Renko in and he calmly retired the next three Ranger batters. One run scored, but it didn’t matter.

Meanwhile, over in Baltimore, Nolan Ryan’s bid for win No. 20 hit a wall. He gave up 7 runs on 7 hits (and 7 walks) over 4.1 innings and the Orioles (77-55) decked the Angels (78-52) 10-6.

August is done. Summer is coming to an end. The 1977 regular season is approaching its twilight and while there are still four legitimate division races going on, the four leaders still control their own destiny.

We finished 8-7 against the Rangers from April to August. If we’re gonna catch them, we’ll need a considerable amount of help in September.

CURRENT RECORD: 79-52 (2nd place, 5 games behind Texas)
REAL-LIFE RECORD: 76-54 (1st place, 2.5 games ahead of Chicago)
AROUND THE LEAGUE:



In the AL East, the Yankees couldn’t care less about all the drama happening at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. They’ve ripped off six straight wins and look to have every intention of defending the crown they earned in 1976 … In the West, the Rangers have definitely stumbled lately, but still own MLB’s best record in spite of it all. They’ll be tough to overcome with the American League’s best overall pitching staff and a resourceful lineup that can grind all day. The Royals went 20-10 in August and still gained only 4 games ….. Over in the NL East, the Cubs continue to show surprising resilience. Five of the six teams in that division have a winning record, yet none of the other four can get their act together long enough to make a run. Fans in Wrigleyville are starting to feel it, packing every home game with their trademark enthusiasm, but with the equally-surprising Mets only 3.5 games behind, there are plenty of whispers about the collapse of 1969 … In the NL West, Cincinnati is still holding off those hungry Los Angeles Dodgers while the once-hot Giants continue to fade.

THE TOP TEN SONGS IN THE USA ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1977:

1. Best of My Love — The Emotions
2. I Just Want To Be Your Everything — Andy Gibb
3. (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher — Rita Coolidge
4. Easy — The Commodores
5. Handy Man — James Taylor
6. Float On — The Floaters (but the modest mouse song is better)
7. Just a Song Before I Go — Crosby, Stills and Nash
8. Don’t Stop — Fleetwood Mac
9. Strawberry Letter 23 — The Brothers Johnson
10. Telephone Line — Electric Light Orchestra

Notable debuts this week: “You Light Up My Life” (sung by Debby Boone, written by a convicted pedophile) & “We Just Disagree” (by Dave Mason).

Speaking of notable debuts, September 1 in the majors means EXTENDED ROSTERS. Good times!

Bring on the death throes of summer and let the cream rise to the top! Here we go.

*******************************

Last edited by webrian; 07-08-2019 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 07-21-2019, 05:56 AM   #50
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Game 131, Friday September 2, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 12, Brewers 3

WP: Jim Colborn (17-6, 3.86); LP: Gary Beare (6-5, 4.27)

George Brett and Darrell Porter each had a triple and 3 RBIs as the Royals pummeled the Brewers.

Rico Carty hit his 12th homer of the season in the seventh.

The Brewers got a 2-run jack from Don Money (No. 23) in the eighth, but the game was all but decided by then.

** But down in Texas, the Rangers earned a walk-off, 5-4 win over the Red Sox. Juan Beniquez doubled home Steve Braun for the win, keeping the Rangers 5 games ahead of us and 6 in front of California.

***

Game 132, Saturday September 3, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, Brewers 2

WP: Dennis Leonard (16-4, 2.47); LP: Eduardo Rodriguez (10-8, 3.85)

Dennis Leonard continued his long streak of razor-sharp mound work, holding the Brew Crew scoreless through eight innings to win his 16th of 17 decisions.

The Brewers got to the tiring Leonard in the ninth inning, but he finished the game allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits with 0 walks and 6 strikeouts. He threw 136 pitches.

George Brett stayed hot too. He had the Royals’ only two hits through the first six innings — an RBI triple in the first inning and a solo homer (No. 23) in the sixth. Kansas City led 4-0 after eight innings.

Cecil Cooper and Don Money each went 2-for-4 for Milwaukee.

** Down in Arlington, the Rangers took a 7-5 lead into the eighth inning but couldn’t hold it. The Red Sox scored two runs in the eighth (an RBI triple by 19-year old Wade Boggs) to tie it, then took an 8-7 lead in the top of the ninth. The Rangers managed to tie it in the bottom of the ninth (two singles + a throwing error), but then the Sox scored 4 in the top of the tenth to pull out a 12-8 win. Three singles and then a 2-run double by Carl Yastrzemski did that damage.

Texas’ loss means we are now just 4 games behind. Feets don’t fail us now!

***

Game 133, Sunday September 4, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 12, Brewers 3

WP: Paul Splittorff (10-10, 4.42); LP: Bill Travers (10-8, 4.74)

See ya, Milwaukee.

The Brewers came to this 3-game set with an outside shot of challenging Baltimore and New York for the AL East title. They leave Royals Stadium with those hopes seriously hobbled.

This time, KC jumped on the Brewers early, going up 5-0 with a 4-run third inning that sent Brewers SP Bill Travers to an early shower. That was enough cushion for Paul Splittorff, who had fared poorly in two previous starts against the Brew Crew. He allowed 3 runs on 8 hits over seven innings, then turned things over to Marty Pattin to mop up the last two innings of a blowout win.

Hal McRae went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run (No. 11) with 4 RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Amos Otis also hit his 14th homer and drove in 3 runs. McRae now has 42 doubles on the season.

** Meanwhile, in Arlington, the reeling Rangers lost again, 7-5, to the Boston Red Sox. Carlton Fisk hit his 30th homer of the season in that game. Texas has lost 10 of its last 12 and now leads our Royals by just 3 games. California is still hanging around too, just 4.5 games back.

** The New York Yankees defeated the Twins 7-6 and 9-8 in a thrilling doubleheader at Minneapolis. The Yanks have now won 9 in a row and 11 of their last 12 to open up a 7.5-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East. The Brewers have fallen to 9.5 games back.

** In San Diego, the Padres held off the Chicago Cubs 2-1 to take two of three in that weekend series. The Cubs’ lead in the NL East shrank to 2.5 games over the Mets, who just took two of three from the horrible Atlanta Braves.

** In Los Angeles, Steve Garvey slashed a 2-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a walk-off, 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh. The win pulled the Dodgers to within 4.5 games of the NL West-leading Reds.

The Royals have won 7 of 10 and four in a row — but will now begin a 7-game road trip through Seattle and Minnesota. Both teams are currently 58-80 and already eliminated from playoff contention, so …. This should be easy, right? Right??

******
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Old 07-21-2019, 10:18 PM   #51
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******

Game 134, Monday September 5, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Mariners 5, Royals 0

WP: Glenn Abbott (9-11, 5.25); LP: Steve Renko (10-9, 3.89)

Seattle RHP Glenn Abbott put a serious damper on the Royals’ high spirits with a 3-hit shutout at the Kingdome.

Abbott went the distance on only 96 pitches, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. He outdueled Steve Renko who gave up 2-run homers to Ruppert Jones (No. 17) and Dan T. Meyer (No. 26) and didn’t make it past the fifth inning.

There was one silver lining for KC: September call-up Gary Williams relieved Renko in the fifth inning and pitched a scoreless 3.1 innings. Also, LHP Steve Mingori has rejoined the team after a brief stint on the IL due to a dead arm. We will see if the rest did him any good. So far this season, Mingori has a 5.36 ERA in 45 innings pitched with 28 walks and 14 strikeouts.

** Meanwhile in Minnesota, the Rangers belted the Twins 7-2. RHP Bert Blyleven improved to 17-4 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.92. Toby Harrah hit his 25th homer for the Rangers, who now lead Kansas City by four games and surging California by 4.5.

***

Game 135, Tuesday September 6, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Royals 11, Mariners 4

WP: Andy Hassler (4-0, 1.24); LP: Bill Laxton (3-8, 8.27)

Hal McRae swatted a tie-breaking grand slam home run (No. 12) in the top of the eighth inning and Frank White hit a 3-run jack (No. 7) in the ninth for the Royals, who scored 10 of their 11 runs after the sixth inning.

LHP Frank Riccelli, a 24-year old rookie call-up with a CONTROL rating of ‘1’ on the 1-20 scale, had KC’s hitters thoroughly befuddled into the sixth inning. He allowed just 1 run on 2 hits through the first five innings while striking out 5 and walking 7. A 2-run triple by George Brett (his 13th 3-bagger of the season) cut Seattle’s 4-1 lead to 4-3 and sent Riccelli from the mound.

The Mariners’ pen didn’t fare so well. The Royals managed to scratch across the tying run and then load the bases on an error and three infield singles in the top of the eighth. Then, with two outs and the bags juiced, McRae laid the wood to a Bill Laxton offering and sent it over the LF-CF wall for an 8-4 KC lead.

Andy Hassler allowed 4 runs (2 earned) on 9 hits through seven innings. He walked 1, struck out 8. Doug Bird and Steve Mingori held the hosts scoreless in the eighth and ninth innings.

Dan T. Meyer homered for the second consecutive game for Seattle. He now has 27 for the year.

** Slugfest in Minnesota! Twins’ outfielder Larry Hisle belted his 29th homer and drove in 5 runs in an 11-9 victory for the hosts over the Rangers, who lost in spite of a 5-RBI performance from recently-acquired Ron Fairly, who now has 19 HRs and 93 RBI for the season. Hisle leads the Twins with 128 RBI. The Rangers’ lead slipped again to 3 games over KC and 4 games over the idle Angels.

***

Game 136, Wednesday September 7, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Royals 5, Mariners 4

WP: Jim Colborn (18-6, 3.78); LP: Gary Wheelock (6-12, 4.98); Sv: Mark Littell (16, 5.40)

George Brett and Hal McRae combined for 5 hits and 3 RBI, and reliever Mark Littell gently shut the door in the ninth as the Royals won their sixth of the last seven games.

Brett crushed a 2-run, tie-breaking homer (No. 24) in the top of the seventh to give KC a 4-2 lead. McRae hit his 43rd double in the top of the eighth to make it 5-2.

The Mariners got a couple of one-out walks off reliever Larry Gura in the bottom of the ninth, and then with Littell on in relief, loaded the bases when Brett booted a ground ball to third. They pushed two runs across on a fielder’s choice and then an RBI single by Rick Stelmaszek, but then with the score 5-4, Littell got Dave Collins to line out to CF to end the game.

Jim Colborn allowed just 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits and 5 walks through seven innings to pick up his 18th win of the season.

THE PENNANT RACE:

** In Minneapolis, the Rangers took a 5-1 lead to the ninth inning against the Twins and, like the Royals, barely hung on to win it, 5-4, remaining 3 games ahead of us in the AL West. Rangers’ first baseman Mike Hargrove went 2-for-3 with a double and 3 RBIs (and 2 walks) to lead Texas in that one.

** The Angels handed Milwaukee its fifth straight loss, 7-4, to stay 4 games behind the Rangers in the West.

** The New York Yankees powered past the Indians, 10-7, in Cleveland to stay 5.5 games in front of Baltimore, which won 6-3 at Detroit.

** On the North Side of the Windy City, the NL East-leading Cubs lost 19-7 to the freaking Montreal Expos (51-87) — but neither of Chicago’s closest pursuers could take advantage: At Shea Stadium, the NY Mets lost 2-1 to the Phillies in 15 innings. Ted Sizemore scored on a Jay Johnstone sacrifice fly in the top of the 15th to break the 1-1 tie. In Pittsburgh, the Pirates lost 2-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs remain 2.5 games ahead in that race.

** The Reds remained 4.5 games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West after pasting the Giants 11-0 at Riverfront Stadium (Johnny Bench hit 2 homers), while the L.A. Dodgers trimmed the Braves 7-1 at Atlanta.

***

Game 137, Thursday September 8, 1977 ~

At Seattle

Royals 9, Mariners 0

WP: Dennis Leonard (17-4, 2.35); LP: Vern Ruhle (3-15, 5.69)

The American League’s hottest pitcher for the month of August kept it sizzling in Seattle. Dennis Leonard threw a complete-game, 2-hit shutout to notch his 17th win in the past 18 decisions. Leonard walked 1, struck out 5.

KC out-hit the Mariners 14-2 and led 5-0 when catcher Darrell Porter delivered the biggest blow; a 2-out grand slam in the top of the eighth inning. It was Porter’s 21st longball of the season. He now has 65 RBIs despite having missed a whole month.

Porter went 3-for-5 to raise his season average to .309. George Brett also went 3-for-5 raising his own average to .345 (with 97 RBI). Al Cowens went 2-for-4 to get his season average up to .335 with 95 RBI.

THE PENNANT RACE:

** KC picks up half a game on the idle Rangers with this win. We are now 2.5 games behind, with California 4.5 back after a 6-5 loss (in 11 innings) to the Chicago White Sox.

** Both the Yankees (88-52) and the Orioles (82-57) were idle. The Birds are still 5.5 back.

** The Cubs dropped their 2nd in a row to the last-place Expos, 6-3, but the Mets slipped up as well, dropping a 6-4 decision at home against the Phillies. The Pirates clipped the Cardinals 5-2 to get within 3.5 games of the division-leading Cubbies. The second-place Mets remain 2.5 games off the pace.

** The Reds went flat in a 6-2 loss at home to San Francisco while the Dodgers again trashed the last-place Braves 9-4 in Atlanta to pick up a game and get to 3.5 back of the defending world champs.

CURRENT RECORD: 85-53 (2nd place, 2.5 games behind Texas)

REAL-LIFE RECORD: 84-54 (1st place, 7 games ahead of Chicago)

*******************
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Old 08-10-2019, 06:12 PM   #52
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Game 138, Friday September 9, 1977 ~

At Minnesota

Royals 5, Twins 2 (10 innings)

WP: Mark Littell (6-2, 5.37); LP: Tom Johnson (5-11, 3.45)

The Royals used speed and timely hitting to score three runs in the top of the 10th inning and extend their winning streak to 4 games.

We had a 2-1 lead going to the bottom of the ninth inning with Paul Splittorff in position to grab his 11th win of the season. But Mark Littell walked the first two Twins hitters he saw in the ninth and one of them eventually came around to score the tying run.

In the 10th, the Royals got their first two hitters on base against Minnesota closer Tom Johnson, and then Kiko Garcia — after failing twice to lay down a bunt — slapped a single up the middle, allowing pinch-runner Fred Patek to score the go-ahead run. Then Frank White and Garcia executed a double steal, with Twins catcher Butch Wynegar’s throw to third going wild, allowing White to score and Garcia to hustle to third. He later scored on Tom Poquette’s infield single, making it 5-2.

Littell worked around a leadoff walk to retire the Twins in the tenth, turning his eighth blown save of the season into a vulture win.

The Royals trailed 1-0 until the top of the seventh, when George Brett banged a 2-run triple (his 14th of the season) into the RF-CF gap.

Splittorff pitched a great game, allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks over eight innings while striking out 3.

** The Rangers are in Seattle and they thrashed the discombobulated Mariners 13-1 to stay 2.5 games ahead of us in the AL West. Texas hit 6 home runs in the game, including 2 by Claudell Washington.

***

Game 139, Saturday September 10, 1977 ~

At Minnesota

Twins 4, Royals 0

WP: Dave Goltz (7-3, 4.02); LP: Steve Renko (10-10, 3.90)

Steve Renko didn’t pitch badly, but the Royals failed to score a run in his second straight start. Meanwhile, Dave Goltz improved to 3-0 against Kansas City this season, despite missing two and a half months with injury.

The game stayed scoreless into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Twins had runners at the corners and there were two outs. Rod Carew stood at the plate. I knew Renko was tiring, and it was dangerous for him to pitch to a left-handed batter of Carew’s caliber in that situation.

But I felt bad for Renko. It’s not his fault his team won’t score runs for him — so if he was gonna lose his chance at the win, I wanted him to lose it on the mound. But mostly I wanted him to get that third out and keep it scoreless into the eighth.

Carew rocketed a two-run double to the RF corner. The Twins put two more runs on the board after that, and Goltz wrapped up his 4-hit, complete-game shutout.

** We picked a bad day to lose. Over in Seattle, the Rangers swept a doubleheader with the Mariners, 13-0 and 10-4, to turn what had been a 2.5-game lead to a 4-game spread. Meanwhile, over in Anaheim, Nolan Ryan improved to 21-5 with a 4-0 shutout win over the White Sox. Ryan struck out 11 batters in the game and lowered his ERA to 2.92.

***

Game 140, Sunday September 11, 1977 ~

At Minnesota

Royals 5, Twins 3 (10 innings)

WP: Doug Bird (6-3, 3.45); LP: Paul Thormodsgard (9-7, 4.50); Sv: Marty Pattin (2, 4.87)

Willie Wilson capped a 4-for-6 day at the plate with a 2-out, 2-run double down the LF line in the top of the 10th inning to lift the Royals to a 5-3 win at mostly-empty Metropolitan Stadium.

Wilson started in CF in place of Amos Otis, who has been slumping and hitting into lots of double plays lately, his average dropping all the way to .220. Wilson also stole a base and drove in three runs.

Frank White also had a big day, going 3-for-4 with a walk, a pair of doubles, an RBI and 2 runs scored.

The game was tied 3-3 since the sixth inning. Andy Hassler (4-0) was bidding for his fifth win since returning from injury, but ran out of gas after six innings. Four relievers held the Twins scoreless over the final four innings, allowing 3 hits and 3 walks with 2 strikeouts between them.

THE PENNANT RACE:

** The Rangers (91-50) completed their 4-game sweep of the Mariners (59-87) with an 11-8 victory in Seattle. Meanwhile, the Angels (85-55) split a doubleheader with the White Sox (60-83). Texas maintains a 4-game lead over Kansas City and a 5.5-game advantage over the Angels. The Rangers host California in Anaheim for three games starting tomorrow.

** Nothing much happening in the AL East, where the Yankees (90-54) still have a 7-game lead over the fading Orioles after taking 3 of 4 from the worst team in baseball, the expansion Toronto Blue Jays (40-100).

** The NL East-leading Cubs completed a weekend sweep of the Mets with a 15-7, come-from-behind triumph at packed, raucous Wrigley Field. The Mets have now lost 5 in a row, slipping into third place, 5.5 games back. The Pirates now trail the Cubs by 4.5 games.

** In Cincinnati, the defending World Champs snapped a 4-game skid with a momentous comeback against the second-place L.A. Dodgers, who had taken the first two games of the series. The Dodgers had a 7-0 lead after two innings, but the Reds rallied for an 8-7 win behind George Foster, who drove in 3 runs to add to his NL-leading 124 RBI total.

CURRENT RECORD: 87-54 (2nd place, 4 games behind Texas)
REAL-LIFE RECORD: 87-54 (1st place, 8.5 games ahead of Chicago White Sox)

The Royals will now return home to begin a 9-game homestand including 4 games against Oakland (71-71), 3 against Seattle (59-87) and then two against Minnesota (60-84).

Meanwhile, Texas begins an 8-game homestand which will consist of 4 against the Angels (85-55) and then 4 more (including a doubleheader) against the Twins.

*******
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:58 PM   #53
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Game 141, Monday September 12, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 17, Athletics 8

WP: Jim Colborn (19-6, 3.97); LP: Vida Blue (14-9, 3.36)

George Brett came into this game needing to drive in just 1 run to reach 100 for the season.
He overachieved. Brett tagged a 2-run homer in the first, launched a grand slam in the 7th, and added an RBI single on his way to a 7-RBI game as the Royals overcame a shaky start by Jim Colborn, who still went seven innings and picked up his 19th win.

Brett now has a team-high 26 HRs and 106 RBI.

Frank White smacked his 8th homer and hit 3 doubles to reach 30 for the season, and Al Cowens also belted a pair of homers (No. 21 & 22) as he moved closer to his 100th RBI (98).

Tony Armas hit his 25th homer and drove in his 107th run for the Athletics, who also got round-trippers from Wayne Gross (No. 18) and Denny Haines, a September call-up.

Down in Arlington, California LHP Frank Tanana (17-5, 2.87) pitched the Angels to a 9-2 victory over the first-place Rangers. We now trail Texas by 3 games. The Halos are 4.5 behind.

***

Game 142, Tuesday September 13, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 9, Athletics 4

WP: Dennis Leonard (18-4, 2.43); LP: Craig Mitchell (2-3, 7.63)

Homers by George Brett (No. 27) and Al Cowens (No. 23) led the way as Kansas City won its third in a row and for the seventh time in the past eight games.

Both Brett’s and Cowens’ homers were solo shots, but Cowens’ gave KC a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Clint Hurdle hit his third, a 2-run shot later in the fourth inning, to point the way to a Royal rout. Rico Carty smacked another 2-run shot, his 13th, in the seventh inning.

Dennis Leonard gave up 4 runs in the first five innings, but then seemed to pick up steam in the later innings. He struck out 5 over the sixth and seventh innings and finished with 12 K’s for the night, with 1 walk.

Mitchell Page (No. 21) and Jerry Tabb (No. 14) homered for Oakland.

Down in Arlington, Ron Fairly and Claudell Washington homered as part of a 13-hit barrage as the Rangers beat back the Angels 12-3, remaining 3 games ahead of us in the AL West.

***

Game 143, Wednesday September 14, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Athletics 7, Royals 1

WP: Doc Medich (9-14, 4.38); LP: Paul Splittorff (10-11, 4.28)

George Brett rested. So timely hitting took a day off as well.

The Royals out-hit the A’s 12-11 but left 10 runners stranded. All four of KC’s extra-base hits (including 2 Rico Carty doubles) came with nobody on base.

Paul Splittorff pitched as well as could reasonably be expected of him (3 runs over seven innings) but the dam burst once the bullpen relieved him.

The Athletics tacked 4 more runs onto their lead in the top of the eighth inning. Three of those runs were unearned, due to a pair of errors at third base by Cookie Rojas, who was playing in Brett’s place.

It was a missed opportunity. Down in Arlington, California ace Nolan Ryan (22-5, 2.87) threw seven innings of 2-hit ball as the Angels downed the Rangers 4-1. Texas remains 3 games in front in the AL West.

***

Game 144, Thursday September 15, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Athletics 4, Royals 2

WP: Matt Keough (8-4, 3.69); LP: Steve Renko (10-11, 4.05); Sv: Enrique Romo (13, 3.94)

Oakland starter Matt Keough had everything working and he kept the KC bats silent for a second straight night. Keough allowed just 2 hits through seven innings.

Steve Renko did pretty much the opposite of Keough. I had to yank him in the first inning after just 19 pitches and zero outs. Renko allowed 2 hits and 2 walks to the first 4 batters he faced. Renko’s dud start helped Oakland bank 3 first-inning runs.

The bullpen pitched magnificently from that point on. Larry Gura (5 IP), Marty Pattin (2 IP) and Doug Bird (2 IP) allowed just 1 run on 6 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6.

The Royals loaded the bases with 1 out in the bottom of the ninth, but pushed across just 1 run.

Another missed opportunity. Down in Arlington, California’s Bobby Bonds swatted his 37th HR of the season in the top of the tenth inning to lift the Angels to a 5-4 win over the Rangers.

The Rangers (92-53) now lead the Royals (89-56) by 3 games and the Angels (88-56) by 3.5.

PENNANT RACE UPDATE:

In the AL East, the Yankees are in a minor slump but still lead the Orioles by 5.5 games, despite Baltimore having now won 3 in a row …. In the NL East, the Cubs have opened up a 5.5-game lead over both the NY Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have gone a combined 10-10 over their past 10 games, neither finding enough traction to catch a Chicago team that neither surges nor fades. The Cubs just keep on Cubbing, and so far that’s enough … In the NL West, the Reds just split a pair of games with the Dodgers in L.A., and remain 1.5 games in front. The Astros are sneaking up. After winning 7 of their past 10, the Astros are only 4.5 games out in the NL West.

Now the Royals begin a 3-game weekend series with the Mariners (60-88). We will look to Andy Hassler (4-0, 1.80) to snap the 2-game skid.

**********
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:26 AM   #54
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Game 145, Friday September 16, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 6, Mariners 5

WP: Mark Littell (7-2, 5.16); LP: Bill Laxton (4-9, 7.86)

Tom Poquette snapped out of an 0-for-19 slump with a two-out, bases-clearing double in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game. Then Al Cowens hit his 24th homer of the year in the bottom of the eighth to put KC on top 6-5.

Mark Littell worked around a two-out single in the top of the ninth to secure the win.

Andy Hassler’s charmed life came to a bit of an end. He had a horrible third inning, yielding 4 runs on just 1 hit (a 2-run single by Bill Stein), with an error and three walks thrown in for good measure. He pitched well otherwise, and escaped a loss, but couldn’t rack up his fifth win in five starts.

While the Royals avoided a third straight loss, the Rangers weren’t so lucky, losing to the visiting Twins by a 4-2 score. California, meanwhile, beat down the Chicago White Sox 8-2 at Comiskey Park.

The Rangers’ once 10-plus-games lead in the AL West is now down to 2 games over Kansas City and 2.5 over the Angels.

***

Game 146, Saturday September 17, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Mariners 14, Royals 10 (17 innings)

WP: Greg Biercevicz (2-0, 7.88); LP: Greg Shanahan (3-5, 5.33)

Oh man, this one hurts.

John Mayberry hit a 2-out, pinch-hit, 2-run home run (his 20th) in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game 10-10 and give the Royals new hope.

But in extras, Seattle’s rag-tag crew of young and unimpressive relievers held KC down for eight straight innings. In the top of the 17th, with two out, a backup catcher named Skip Jutze smacked a 2-run homer off Greg Shanahan. Two batters later, Leroy Stanton clubbed his 29th of the season, another 2-run shot to make it 14-10.

Jim Colborn (19-6) got the start but was mostly ineffective. I kept him in longer than I should have, thinking the Royals’ hitters (who had scored 6 runs in the first three innings) would keep bailing him out and he’d notch his 20th win.

But the Mariners jumped all over Colborn in the top of the seventh, turning what had been a 6-4 Royals’ lead into a 10-6 deficit. The Royals still fought back, and had a chance to build some real momentum if Mayberry’s dramatic pinch-hit homer in the ninth had spurred KC to an eventual win. It led instead to a 17-inning loss of a 6-hour-long game the night before a scheduled Sunday afternooner.

Hal McRae went 4-for-6 with 3 runs scored for KC. Seattle’s Craig Reynolds went 5-for-9 with five singles and Jose Cruz went 4-for-9 to spearhead Seattle’s 23-hit attack.

Down in Arlington, the Rangers LOST AGAIN. They took a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning against Minnesota, but gave up 5 runs and lost 5-3. The Rangers appear to really be hearing the footsteps — but now it’s not KC’s footsteps, but California’s. The Angels beat the White Sox 7-2 to slide into 2nd place, just 1.5 games out. The Royals are now in third, but still just 2 games back.

***

Game 147, Sunday September 18, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 1, Mariners 0

WP: Dennis Leonard (19-4, 2.32); LP: Vern Ruhle (3-17, 5.70)

Dennis Leonard showed he’s the true ace of the staff.

The hard-throwing right-hander threw a complete-game, 5-hit shutout, walking 2 and striking out 8, to give Kansas City the bounce-back it needed after Saturday’s 17-inning loss.

The fact both teams were exhausted from the night before probably explains why only one run crossed the plate — and that came in the first inning. George Brett sliced a two-out double down into the LF corner, then scored on Al Cowens’ single up the middle to make it a 1-0 lead.

Down in Arlington, the Rangers split an afternoon doubleheader with the visiting Twins, beating them 2-1 in the early game, then losing 6-4 in the late one. This allowed us to pick up a cool half game on the team we’ve been pursuing since May.

But California did even better, sweeping the White Sox 4-3 and 2-1 in a doubleheader at Chicago. Nolan Ryan, now 23-5 with a 2.80 ERA, struck out 10 in 6.1 innings in the 2-1 win. The Angels’ DH sweep moved them to just a half game out of first place.

Now the top of the AL West standings looks like this:

Texas Rangers 93-56 —
California Angels 92-56 0.5 GB
Kansas City Royals 91-57 1.5 GB

The Rangers now embark on a critical West Coast swing, starting with 4 games at California. All eyes will be on that series!

We get a day off on Monday, then host Minnesota (66-86) in a pair of games Tuesday and Wednesday. We will be in California over the weekend, right after Texas goes through.

This race is ON.

**********
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:18 PM   #55
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OFF DAY, Monday September 19, 1977 ~

*** MONDAY NIGHT BASEBALL ***

At Anaheim

Texas Rangers 10, California Angels 7 (10 innings)

Light-hitting reserve DH Steve Braun, recently acquired from the Seattle Mariners, belted a 3-run home run in the top of the 10th inning to lift the reeling Rangers to victory.

Texas (94-56) could have fallen out of first place for the first time since early May with a loss, but managed to beat back the surging Angels despite blowing two earlier leads.

Texas halted California’s 6-game winning streak. The Angels are now 92-57.

A 3-run homer by Claudell Washington (No. 16) in the first inning, and an RBI triple by Bert Campaneris staked the visiting Rangers to an early 4-0 lead off starter Dave A. Roberts (10-12), who was acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline.

But young Rangers’ starter Doyle Alexander (12-7) couldn’t hold the lead. California pecked away for 5 runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a brief 5-4 lead before the Rangers rallied again in the top of the sixth to go back on top, 6-5. Texas added an apparent insurance run in the top of the ninth to make it 7-5.

But Adrian Devine and Darold Knowles failed to hold it. The Angels loaded the bases with nobody out and eventually tied the game on a 2-out single by catcher Joe Ferguson, with the tying run crossing the plate on a wild throw home by Claudell Washington as the packed Anaheim Stadium crowd jumped for joy.

But a tiring Wayne Simpson had to be relieved in the top of the 10th after throwing 75 pitches over the previous three innings. The Angels had to turn to September call-up John Caneira (9.22 ERA), and he surrendered the fateful 3-run jack to Steve Braun, who has only 5 homers all year.

The loss pushed the Angels to 1.5 games back and left the idle Royals 2 games back.

On Tuesday …

* In Anaheim, the Rangers will send recently-acquired (from Oakland) RHP Stan Bahnsen (6-13, 6.08 ERA) to the mound against California’s Gary Ross (14-10, 5.06).

* In Kansas City, the Royals (91-57) will send hard-luck lefty Paul Splittorff (10-11, 4.78 ERA) to the hill against Minnesota (66-86) who will counter with ace Dave Goltz (8-3, 3.76 ERA). Goltz is 3-0 against the Royals this season, including a 4-hit, complete-game shutout on September 10 in Minnesota. Splittorff is 2-0 with one no-decision against the Twins, but he has given up 12 earned runs in 19 innings against them.

PENNANT RACE UPDATE:

In the AL EAST, the New York Yankees’ (93-58) magic number to clinch remains at 6 after the Bombers lost 14-13 to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, with Dwight Evans singling home Dave Cash with the winning run in the bottom of the tenth. The Yanks out-hit the Sox 23-15 in the wild game, but Boston got homers from Butch Hobson (No. 39), Carlton Fisk (No. 32), Fred Lynn (No. 32) and, of course, Jim Rice (No. 40). Boston is relishing its spoiler role.

** On Tuesday, the Yanks send Ron Guidry (17-12, 2.52) to the mound against Boston’s Mike Paxton (12-7, 4.04).

In the NL EAST, the Chicago Cubs’ magic number is down to 8. The Cubbies have won 8 of their last 10 while holding off second-place Pittsburgh, which remains 4.5 games out despite winning 7 of its last 10. The fading Mets are now 6.5 games out.

** On Tuesday, the Cubs begin a 3-game set at Philadelphia, where they’ll send Bill Bonham (20-8, 3.13) to the mound against Philly’s Larry Christensen (11-12, 3.47) …. Meanwhile, at Shae Stadium, the Mets (80-71) begin a 2-game set against the Pirates (82-69), with New York’s John Matlack (14-12, 2.75) going against Pittsburgh’s John Candelaria (14-9, 3.16).

In the NL WEST, the defending World Champion Reds (86-66) lost 4-0 at San Diego to drop their third straight, but still lead the L.A. Dodgers, who have lost 2 straight, by a single game. The Houston Astros, winners of 7 of their last 10, are only 3.5 games out.

** On Tuesday, the Reds are still at San Diego (70-82) where they’ll send struggling Pat Zachry (12-14, 4.72) to the mound against Randy Jones (12-15, 3.99) … Meanwhile, the Dodgers (84-66) begin a 3-game series AT archrival San Francisco (80-71). Los Angeles will send Burt Hooten (14-7, 3.22) to the mound against John Montefusco (2-5, 3.41), while the surging Astros (81-68) host the awesomely terrible Atlanta Braves (47-103). Houston’s Floyd Bannister (1-12, 2.87) will take the mound against Atlanta’s Dick Ruthven (8-16, 5.51).

Okay, folks? Any PREDICTIONS how all of this is going to turn out?

**********
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:05 PM   #56
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Game 148, Tuesday September 20, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 7, Twins 1

WP: Paul Splittorff (11-11, 4.15); LP: Dave Goltz (8-4, 4.11)

Dave Goltz didn’t have it this time.

The Royals banked 6 runs off the Twins’ starter in the first inning and knocked him out after the second.

Paul Splittorff, the goose-necked SOB, was so delighted to have some run support that he relaxed and just cruised through all nine innings. It was touching. Kinda boring, too, but also touching.

Al Cowens had two hits, including his 25th homer. Amos Otis, who has been in a slump since, like, July 4th, went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .225.

Craig Kusick hit a homer in the third inning. It was his 16th and it made as much noise as a tree falling on Mars.

Bottom line: we needed this win and we got it.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Anaheim: Rangers 9, Angels 6 — Texas scored the game’s first 9 runs then held on as the Angels made a late push in the last two innings. The Royals now move into 2nd place, 2 games back and half a game in front of California.

At Boston: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3 — Yankees’ ace Ron Guidry left with a sore back after getting just 2 outs in the first inning, but September call-up Roger Slagle took over and earned the win. New York’s magic number is now *5*.

At Philadelphia: Phillies 3, Cubs 2 — Larry Christensen out-dueled Bill Bonham (20-9) at the Vet. But the Pirates and Mets were rained out, so Chicago remains 4 games up in the division. The Cubs’ magic number is *8*.

At San Diego: Reds 3, Padres 2 — Hugh Yancy smacked a solo homer in the top of the ninth to break a 2-2 tie. You don’t know who Hugh Yancy is? Join the club.

At San Francisco: Giants 3, Dodgers 2 — The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead to the bottom of the ninth and it all unraveled. Dodgers’ “relief” man Charlie Hough came on with 1 out and 1 on and totally effed it up. His stats now read (and I kid you not): 1-12, 30 saves, 4.08 ERA and *11* blown saves.

*****

Game 149, Wednesday September 21, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 14, Twins 7

WP: Steve Renko (11-11, 4.17); LP: Roger Erickson (6-9, 6.35)

Another big first inning, another easy win.

The Royals chased Twins’ starter Roger Erickson with a 7-run first inning and added 7 more runs over the rest of the game to overcome a poor start by Steve Renko, who nevertheless snapped a personal 3-game losing streak.

Home runs by Darrell Porter (No. 22) and Hal McRae (No. 3) highlighted Kansas City’s big first inning. Al Cowens went 4-for-5 with a triple, 2 doubles, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI.

Craig Kusick had another home run (No. 17) and a bases-loaded double to finish with 3 RBI for the Twins.

Now the Royals will take a day off before embarking on a grueling, high-stakes West Coast swing through Anaheim (4 games in 3 days) and Oakland (4 games in 3 days). It could make or break KC’s playoff chances.

CURRENT RECORD: 93-57 (2nd place, 1 game behind Texas)
REAL-LIFE RECORD: 95-55 (1st place, 11 games ahead of Texas)

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Anaheim: Angels 3, Rangers 2 — September call-up Willie Aikens belted a pinch-hit, 2-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift California to 3-2 triumph over first-place Texas. The Angels are now just 1.5 games back, but in third place.

At Baltimore: Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3 — At Memorial Stadium, the Orioles (87-65) found a way to lose to the expansion Blue Jays (45-106), which dropped the idle Yankees’ magic number to *4*.

At New York: Pirates 2, Mets 1 & Pirates 6, Mets 2 — The Pittsburgh Pirates swept a doubleheader from the Mets to take control of second place in the NL East. The Pirates have now won 5 straight to move to within 3.5 games of the first-place Cubs, but ….

At Philadelphia: Cubs 7, Phillies 2 — Despite Greg Luzinski’s 50th home run for Philly, the Cubs picked up a decisive win to shave their magic number to *7*.

At Houston: Astros 4, Braves 2 — Cesar Cedeno cracked a 3-run homer and Joe Niekro improved to 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in beating the Braves. The Stros have snuck up on the NL West race and now trail the leader by just 2.5 games.

At San Diego: Padres 4, Reds 3 — George Hendrick mashed his 24th HR of the season and Dave Winfield clubbed his 18th for the Padres, who deprived the defending World Champs of what could have been a key win. On the other hand …

At San Francisco: Giants 7, Dodgers 6 (10 innings) — The poor Dodgers, just 2 games behind the first-place Reds, lost on a walk-off hit for the second straight night. This time, Giants’ reserve catcher Marc Hill delivered a 2-run, pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the 10th after the Dodgers had scored in the top of the inning to take a 6-5 lead.

The Royals are off and traveling on Thursday, September 22nd, so we’ll zoom in on Anaheim Stadium for the finale of a key 4-game series between the first-place Rangers (95-57) and third-place Angels (93-58), before KC hits California for another big 4-game set. The pitching match-up is a good one: Bert Blyleven (18-6, 2.97) for Texas and Nolan Ryan (23-5, 2.80) for the Angels.

There’s also this: Summer has officially ended. The remaining two weeks of the season will separate the boys of summer from the boys of autumn.

*****

Last edited by webrian; 08-17-2019 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 09:10 PM   #57
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OFF DAY, Thursday September 22, 1977 ~

At Anaheim

Rangers 4, Angels 2

WP: Bert Blyleven (19-6, 2.96); LP: Nolan Ryan (23-6, 2.81); Sv: Adrian Devine (20, 3.17)

Jim Sundberg broke a scoreless tie with a 2-run single in the top of the fourth inning and the once-reeling Rangers asserted their first-place bona fides by taking 3 out of 4 from the Angels at Anaheim.

California pulled ace Nolan Ryan with one out in the sixth inning, though the Angels only trailed 2-1 at the time. He wasn’t hurt or anything, but he had thrown 104 pitches. Maybe they wanted to save some of his arm for the upcoming series with Kansas City?

Texas’ Bert Blyleven went seven strong, allowing just 2 runs (both earned) on 7 hits with 7 strikeouts and no walks.

Toby Harrah smacked a solo home run, his 29th, in the seventh inning.
With this win, Texas moves to a 1.5-game lead over the idle Royals and 2.5 games over the Angels.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Baltimore: Orioles 5, Blue Jays 0 — Baltimore’s Mike Parrott threw a complete-game, 4-hit shutout to keep the Birds in the race, for now. The idle Yankees’ magic number remains at *4*. /// NOTE: The Yankees begin will next begin a 3-game series at lowly Toronto and could very well clinch the AL East title there.

At Philadelphia: Cubs 3, Phillies 2 (13 innings) — Karl Pagel hit a game-tying home run off Phillies closer Gene Garber in the top of the ninth, then scored the go-ahead run on a single by reserve catcher Duane Gustavson in the top of the 13th. Bruce Sutter nailed down his 25th save to keep the Cubbies 4 games up on the idle Pirates. /// NOTE: The Cubs play 6 of their last 9 games against the Pirates, starting tomorrow with a 3-game weekend set at what’s bound to be a rollicking Wrigley Field.

At Houston: Astros 13, Braves 4 — J.R. Richard improved to 22-6 with a 2.09 ERA while striking out 13 Atlanta hitters in a complete-game victory. Cliff Johnson hit his 28th HR and Bob Watson pegged his 26th as Houston moved into a 2nd-place tie with the idle Dodgers, just 2 games behind the idle first-place Reds. /// NOTE: It’s about to get real. The Reds will play their last regular-season road series at Atlanta (47-106) over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Astros will host the slumping Dodgers, with both teams just 2 games out of first place. The Astros and Dodgers still must play each other 7 times, including this weekend’s 3-game set at the Astrodome. The Reds could take the division by default with their nearest pursuers beating up on each other. Cincy only has Atlanta and San Diego left to play.

*****
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Old 08-25-2019, 12:48 AM   #58
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Game 150, Friday September 23, 1977 ~

At Anaheim

Angels 7, Royals 6

WP: Sid Monge (3-2, 5.58); LP: Larry Gura (3-5, 4.29); Sv: Don Kirkwood (6, 2.53)

Jim Colborn was bidding for his 20th win, but left with an apparently serious injury after just 9 pitches. The Royals had a 2-0 lead when Colborn went out, and led 5-1 after three-and-a-half innings, but the uneven bullpen couldn’t hold the Angels down.

California took a 7-5 lead during a 4-run seventh inning, with most of the damage coming against LH reliever Larry Gura. He walked in a run with the bases loaded, yielded a 2-run, pinch-hit single to Bobby Bonds (who now has 132 RBI) and then an RBI double by Bobby Grich.

The Royals pushed a single run across in the top of the ninth, but they needed two to tie. Hal McRae hit his 50th double of the season in this game.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Oakland: Rangers 4, Athletics 2 — Behind a strong performance from LHP Roger Moret (15-5, 3.40), Texas tightened its grip on first place as Kansas City fell into a second-place tie with the Angels, 2.5 games back. Juan Beniquez hit his 14th HR in this game.

At Toronto: Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1 — Toronto starter Jesse Jefferson held the Yankees to just 4 hits into the eighth inning. But Baltimore lost 4-2 at Cleveland, shaving the Yanks’ magic number down to *3*.

At Chicago: Pirates 3, Cubs 0 — Bruce Kison (16-10, 2.92) hurled a 3-hit shutout at Wrigley Field and also doubled during a 2-run fifth inning for the Bucs, who moved to within 3 games of the first-place Cubs with their 6th straight win. Rick Reuschel (15-15, 3.66) took the loss.

At Atlanta: Reds 3, Braves 2 — Johnny Bench went 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI as the defending World Champs trimmed the lowly Braves. Rawly Eastwick (5-9, 4.30) picked up the win in relief. Cincy’s prolific slugger George Foster (39 HR, 125 RBI) is on the DL possibly until the start of the playoffs, so he did not play.

At Houston: Astros 8, Dodgers 4 — Houston picked up its fifth straight win. Los Angeles took its fifth straight loss, falling into third place (3 games behind the Reds) as the Stros pulled into second, 2 games back. Young Joaquin Andujar (12-12, 4.05) picked up the ‘W’ despite yielding a home run to L.A’s Reggie Smith (No. 32).

***

Game 151, Saturday September 24, 1977 ~

At Anaheim

Royals 5, Angels 4 (11 innings)

WP: Mark Littell (8-2, 4.76); LP: Tom Murphy (3-5, 4.65)

Amos Otis tripled and scored on a fielder’s choice in the top of the 11th inning to lift Kansas City to the win.

Mark Littell, maligned for wildly inconsistent bullpen work all season, pitched 3 clutch innings in relief of starter Dennis Leonard (19-4), who failed to pick up his 20th win despite going 8 innings. Leonard walked 1 and struck out 5, but with a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, he gave up back-to-back homers; a 2-run, 450-foot bomb to Bobby Bonds (No. 38), then a solo shot by Bruce Bochte (No. 3) as the Angels took a 4-3 lead.

The Royals tied it 4-4 in the top of the ninth when Frank White scored on pinch-hitting Darrell Porter’s sacrifice fly. Littell then relieved Leonard, allowing just 1 baserunner (a 2-out walk in the 10th) while striking out 2 over his 3 innings.

The first three hitters in KC’s lineup, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae and George Brett, had two hits apiece. Brett hit his 31st double and his 15th triple, while driving in a pair of runs. McRae smacked his 51st double, scored and had an RBI, and Wilson also scored a run, drove in a run and stole two bases.

The Royals and Angels will play a massively important afternoon doubleheader on Sunday. In the first game, Paul Splittorff (11-11, 4.15) will start against California’s Gary Ross (14-11, 5.20) and in the second, KC’s Andy Hassler (4-0, 1.73) will pitch against fireballing LHP Frank Tanana (18-5, 2.79).

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Oakland: Rangers 7, Athletics 6 — Bump Wills jolted the A’s with a 2-out, 2-run home run (No. 6) in the top of the eighth inning to put the Rangers on top for good in a game that saw four lead changes. The Rangers have now won 5 of 6 *on the road* since a two-week slump that allowed Kansas City and California to make it a race. Toby Harrah also hit his 30th HR for the Rangers. Tony Armas smacked his 27th for Oakland. The Rangers (98-57) now lead Kansas City by 2.5 games and California by 3.5.

At Toronto: Yankees 7, Blue Jays 0 — Doc Ellis threw 8 shutout innings to improve to 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA as New York cut its magic number down to *2* with Baltimore winning at Cleveland. Chris Chambliss and Lou Piniella hit their 21st and 15th homers, respectively. The Yankees are 95-59 and closing in on their second straight NL East title.

At Chicago: Pirates 5, Cubs 3 — Make that now seven straight wins for the hard-charging Pirates, who have cut Chicago’s lead down to 2 games with two straight wins at Wrigley Field. Dave Parker went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and 2 RBI and Jim Rooker (8-13, 4.19) earned the win. Mike Adams hit his 16th homer and Bobby Murcer slammed his 29th for Chicago, but to no avail. Is the Billy Goat Curse descending on the Cubbies at the worst possible time?

At Atlanta: Reds 16, Braves 2 — The Reds raced out to an 11-0 lead after two-and-a-half innings and then rested all the starters they could. Jack Billingham picked up the win, improving to 14-9 with a 3.76 ERA. Johnny Bench belted his 25th HR of the season while Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion had 3 hits and drove in 3 runs apiece.

At Houston: Astros 3, Dodgers 2 — Two NL West contenders continued going in opposite directions with the Astros winning their 6th in a row and the Dodgers losing their 6th straight. Joe Rudi, who Houston acquired from the Angels in late July, hit his 10th HR of the season in the fourth as the hosts built a 3-1 lead and hung on. They trail the Reds by 2 games. The stumbling Dodgers are now lagging by 4 games.

***

Game 152, Sunday September 25, 1977 ~

At Anaheim

Royals 18, Angels 7

WP: Dan Quisenberry (1-0, 2.08); LP: Ed Ricks (0-1, 8.00)

George Brett hit his 28th and 29th homers as part of a 4-for-6 game with 5 RBI and 3 runs scored and Hal McRae went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and 4 runs as the Royals walloped the Angels in the first game of an afternoon doubleheader.

One of Brett’s homers and a bases-clearing triple by McRae came during an 8-run explosion in the top of the seventh, right after the Angels had tied the game 6-all with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, chasing KC starter Paul Splittorff.

Frank White went 2-for-6with 3 RBI, including a 2-run single in the seventh that put the Royals on top for good. Jerry Remy and Rance Mulliniks each had 3 hits for California. Mulliniks, a rookie, ripped his 49th double of the year.

Game 153, Sunday September 25, 1977 ~

At Anaheim

Angels 9, Royals 2

WP: Frank Tanana (19-5, 2.79); LP: Andy Hassler (4-1, 2.22)

California LHP Frank Tanana took a no-hitter and a 4-0 lead to the eighth inning. The Royals finally got a pair of hits off him and chased him from the mound with two runs, but the Angels hitters had his back. They tacked 4 more runs on in the bottom of the eighth to make it stick.

The bottom of the Angels’ order, Manny Sanguillen, Bobby Grich and Tom Donohue, ripped three consecutive doubles off reliever Doug Bird, who ended up getting charged with 4 earned runs in 0.2 IP.

Rance Mulliniks went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI for the Angels.

George Brett had a 21-game hitting streak stopped in this game.

The end of the long day left us right where we began it: 2.5 games behind the Rangers, with California 3.5 behind. But time is running out with only 8 games to play.

NOTE: Jim Colborn’s injury has been revealed and it’s awful. The workhorse has a torn UCL and will miss the rest of 1977 and all of 1978 as well. What a tough break. The guy was 9 pitches into his bid for a 20th win and now won’t realistically pitch again until the 1979 season. We called up AAA right-hander Bill Paschall, who went 8-17 with a 3.88 ERA down at Omaha. We will also get back RHP Marty Pattin (5-5, 4.78) in the next day or two. He had been out most of the past two weeks with a herniated disc in his back.

CURRENT RECORD: 95-59 (2nd place, 2.5 games behind Texas)
REAL-LIFE RECORD: 99-55 (1st place, 10.5 games over Texas, with division title clinched)

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Oakland: Athletics 5, Rangers 4 & Rangers 9, Athletics 6 — Rodney Scott singled home Tito Fuentes (formerly of Detroit) with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to lift Oakland in the first game of the doubleheader. In the second game, the Rangers rapped 12 hits, including homers by Claudell Washington (No. 17), Toby Harrah (No. 31) and Ron Fairly (No. 22) to outpace the A’s, who got round-trippers from Mitchell Page (No. 23) and Wayne Gross (No. 19). Rickey Henderson, age 19, stole his 73rd base of the season to go with a .280 average, 15 homers and 67 RBI. He and California’s Rance Mulliniks are in a major fight for Rookie of the Year honors — and that's if Oakland's Mitchell Page doesn't win it!

At Toronto: Yankees 12, Blue Jays 2 — Lou Piniella went 3-for-4 and homered as part of a 15-hit attack as New York slapped the expansion Jays around to the tune of 15 hits. Ed Figueroa picked up the CG-win, improving to 22-5 with a 3.47 ERA. This victory shaved the Yanks’ magic number to *1*, even with second-place Baltimore winning its 90th game at Cleveland.

At Chicago: Cubs 8, Pirates 5 — The Cubs found a way at raucous Wrigley Field despite getting out-hit 14-8 by the Bucs, whose winning streak ended at 7 games. Cubs’ ace Bill Bonham proved the stopper, improving to 21-9 with a 3.22 ERA despite allowing those 14 hits. Cubs’ second baseman Mike Adams smacked a 2-run homer (No. 17) in the bottom of the fourth to snap a 4-4 tie and give the hosts the lead for good. Chicago’s magic number is now *4* but the Cubs (89-67) must finish the season with 3 games AT Pittsburgh (86-70).

At Atlanta: Braves 3, Reds 2 — The 108-loss Braves rallied for 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth off Rawly Eastwick (5-10, 4.52) to stall Cincy’s momentum. Ken Griffey, Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion had 2 hits apiece for the Reds, who remain 2 games ahead of the pack in first place. The magic number is now *5* for Cincinnati (89-68).

At Houston: Dodgers 6, Astros 3 — Steve Garvey swatted his 25th HR and Reggie Smith hit No. 33 on the season as Los Angeles stopped its 6-game skid and Houston’s 6-game winning streak. Burt Hooten got the win, improving to 15-7 with a 3.15 ERA and shaky knuckleballer Charlie Hough (1-12, 4.08) picked up his 31st save. The Astros remain 2 games behind the Reds while the Dodgers are 3 games back.

LOOKING AHEAD:

• The Royals begin another key series — 4 games in 3 days — at Oakland on Monday, September 26. The doubleheader will be on Tuesday. On Monday, Steve Renko (12-11, 4.11) will pitch against Oakland’s Matt Keough (8-5, 3.90).

• The Yankees begin a 7-game homestand on Monday against Cleveland. They need only 1 win or a Baltimore loss to clinch the AL East. Ron Guidry (17-12, 2.52) will be on the hill for the Yanks.

Texas and California are both idle on Monday. The Rangers get TWO off days before starting a 5-game homestand where they very well could clinch the AL West. The Rangers will play two against last-place Seattle and then three against Oakland to wrap up their regular season. The Rangers have the best home record in baseball at 51-25. /// California just finished playing 22 games (3 doubleheaders) over 19 straight days. They’re gassed. The Angels get Monday off, but then hit the road on a 6-game swing through Milwaukee (2 games) and then Kansas City for 4 games.

• The Cubs finish their regular-season home schedule with three games against Philadelphia, starting on Monday when Chicago’s Mike Krukow (11-7, 3.80) will go against Philly’s Wayne Twitchell (9-9, 3.73).

• The Pirates, 3 games back of the Cubs, are off on Monday, but begin a six-game homestand on Tuesday, starting with three against the Mets and then closing it out with three against the Cubs. That’ll be a big series if Chicago doesn’t clinch by then.

• The Astros are hitting the road, where they are just 37-37 this season. They will begin a three-game series in Atlanta on Monday. Houston is 2 games behind the division-leading Reds and could use a sweep against the NL’s worst team before flying across the country for 4 games at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

• The Dodgers get to play their last 7 scheduled games at home. They start a 3-game set with the hated San Francisco Giants on Monday, then get 4 chances against Houston. But at 3 games out with 7 to play, L.A is going to need a Hollywood miracle to accomplish what it did in the real 1977 season.

• The defending World Champion Reds control their own destiny. They lead the NL West by 2 games and only have 5 left to play — all at home. The Reds are off on Monday, but on Tuesday begin a 2-game set against the 6th-place Padres. Then they get Thursday off before hosting the terrible Braves for 3 games over the weekend.

Bottom line: The 1977 season has one full week left. Nobody has clinched yet. This coming week will decide every division race.

Stay tuned!

******
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:26 PM   #59
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Game 154, Monday September 26, 1977 ~

At Oakland

Royals 8, Athletics 2

WP: Steve Renko (13-11, 4.13); LP: Matt Keough (8-6, 4.08)

Tom Poquette went 4-for-5 and scored 3 runs from the leadoff slot and Hal McRae went 3-for-5 with his 52nd double to spearhead a 13-hit attack as the Royals won their 96th game.

Steve Renko pitched well enough for six innings to earn his 13th win. Hopefully that’ll break him out of the minor slump he’s been in. He allowed 3 runs 5 hits and 4 walks. One of the hits Renko allowed was a first-inning solo HR to Mitchell Page, who now has 24 to go with a .317 average and 110 RBIs. Not bad for a rook.

With this win, KC picks up a half game on the idle Rangers. We now trail by 2 games with 8 to play.

On Tuesday we’ll play the A’s in a day-night doubleheader. We’re not ready for it. With Jim Colborn lost for the season (and next season too), there’s a giant hole in our pitching staff where 246 innings of service used to be. None of the other four starters on our staff are even up to 50 percent rested.

So I’ll have to start Marty Pattin (5-5, 4.78) in game one, despite the fact he just got off the DL and hasn’t pitched in nearly three weeks. In game two, I’ll either start Rich Gale (1-3, 4.65) or Dennis Leonard on three days’ rest. We will be opposed by the A’s Vida Blue (15-10, 3.41) in game one and Greg Cochran (6-1, 3.64) in game two.

Bottom line? Barring some outstanding step-up work, this could be the day that costs us our shot at the AL West.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At New York: Yankees 7, Indians 0 — It’s all over in the AL East. The defending AL champs clinched their second straight division title as left-handed ace Ron Guidry fired a complete-game shutout for his 18th win. Reggie Jackson, who missed a substantial amount of the summer with an injury, hit his 22nd homer. The Yankees (97-59) can now play out the string, rest their starters, and get ready for the ALCS as they wait to learn who their opponent will be.

At Chicago: Phillies 6, Cubs 5 — Philadelphia’s Greg Luzinski went 3-for-5 and hit his 51st HR to spoil the day at Wrigley Field. The Cubs still lead the idle Pirates by 2.5 games and their magic number remains at *4*.
At Atlanta: Astros 9, Braves 3 — Bob Watson, Jose Cruz and Joe Rudi each hit homers as Houston picked up half a game on the idle Reds. Joe Nieko improved to 14-9 with the win.

At Los Angeles: Dodgers 4, Giants 3 — Rookie Terry Whitfield hit a home run and drove in all 3 runs for the Giants, but the Dodgers took the lead on a 2-run single by Steve Garvey in the bottom of the seventh and Charlie Hough nailed it down with his 32nd save. Dodgers RHP Rick Rhoden improved to 15-6 with a 2.56 ERA in the win.

*****

Game 155, Tuesday September 27, 1977 ~

At Oakland

Athletics 6, Royals 3

WP: Vida Blue (16-10, 3.40); LP: Marty Pattin (5-6, 4.77); Sv: Enrique Romo (14, 3.90)

Marty Pattin tried, but just didn’t have it in him. He allowed 5 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits and 4 walks over four innings. A rare throwing error by SS Kiko Garcia in the second helped the A’s score 3 runs to overtake an early 2-0 Royals advantage.

Vida Blue gave up 2 runs on three hits in the first inning, but settled down after that. He went 8.1 innings and yielded 3 runs on 7 hits. He struck out 4, walked 2.

We did rally a bit in the ninth, managing to load the bases with two outs, but pinch-hitter Tom Poquette struck out to end the game.

Now we’ll see how the night game goes. I’ll start Dennis Leonard, mostly out of desperation, and see if he can at least keep us close for six innings. I hate that I’ll have to rely on the pen, but if the pen can’t come through now, then we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs, do we?

***

Game 156, Tuesday September 27, 1977 ~

At Oakland

Royals 9, Athletics 8

WP: Rich Gale (2-3, 5.30); LP: Steve Dunning (2-2, 7.36); Sv: Mark Littell (17, 4.64)

Dennis Leonard pitched four shutout innings as the Royals raced out to a 5-0 lead against Athletics’ starter Steve Dunning.

So of course I had to push Leonard’s withered arm for one more inning. It almost cost us the game. The A’s rallied for 3 runs in the fourth off Leonard and reliever Greg Shanahan, and kept us sweating bullets until the last out. We got a huge lift from Mark Littell, who came in with two outs in the eighth (after a 2-run HR by Tim freaking Hosley pulled Oakland to within 9-8) and struck out four straight to end the game.

Fortunately for us, the Athletics didn’t have many great pitching options, either, and for some reason started the horrible Dunning in place of scheduled hurler Greg Cochran. So we were able to score just enough runs to pull this one out. Darrell Porter smacked his 24th HR of the season and Kiko Garcia belted his 8th.

Rico Carty went 3-for-4 with a run scored for KC, which had 15 hits in total.

We neither picked up nor lost a game on the idle Rangers. They lead the AL West at 99-58 and we are 2 games back at 97-60. California is 3 games back at 96-61.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

ALREADY CLINCHED: NY Yankees — Beat Cleveland 7-4, improving to 98-59.

At Milwaukee: Angels 4, Brewers 2 — Nolan Ryan went eight strong innings while improving to 24-6 with a 2.76 ERA. Bobby Bonds cranked his 39th bomb of the year, a 3-run job in the sixth that gave California a 3-2 lead. The Angels remain 3 games back, in third place in the AL West.

At Chicago: Cubs 5, Phillies 3 — Karl Pagel launched his 32nd and 33rd homers and Bruce Sutter nailed down his 27th save of the year as the Cubbies beat Philadelphia ace Steve Carlton and slashed their magic number down to *3*.

At Pittsburgh: Pirates 6, Mets 2 — Al Oliver and Dave Parker hit their 14th and 17th homers, respectively, as Pittsburgh kept pace with the winning Cubs. Jerry Reuss improved to 16-7, 2. 42 ERA.

At Cincinnati: Padres 7, Reds 4 — San Diego starting pitcher Tom Griffin slashed a bases-clearing double in the top of the sixth inning to give the visitors the lead for good at Riverfront Stadium, where the Reds could ill afford to lose, except …

At Atlanta: Braves 5, Astros 4 — Gary Matthews doubled, tripled and drove in 3 runs for the Braves as they kept Houston from picking up a crucial game on the losing Reds. The Astros remain 1.5 games behind Cincy, whose magic number is still *4*.

At Los Angeles: Giants 6, Dodgers 3 — Despite homers by Ron Cey (No. 20) and Reggie Smith (No. 34), the Dodgers fell to the Giants on a day they could have picked up ground. L.A remains 2.5 games behind and in third place in the NL West.

*****

Game 157, Wednesday September 28, 1977 ~

At Oakland

Athletics 7, Royals 2

WP: Greg Cochran (7-1, 3.43); LP: Gary Williams (0-1, 4.70)

The Athletics pounded out 11 hits, including home runs by Mitchell Page (No. 25), Rickey Henderson (No. 16) and Earl Williams (No. 9) and dealt Kansas City’s flagging AL West hopes another painful blow.

With no starters at even 50 percent rested, I threw 22 year-old rookie LHP Gary Williams out there to see if he could confuse the Oakland hitters and keep us in the game, especially if we could muster offense off the Athletics’ 23 year-old rookie Greg Cochran.

Williams didn’t pitch badly. He gave up 3 runs (all earned) on 8 hits over 4 innings, and 2 of those runs came on solo homers by Page and Henderson. But in the meantime, Cochran held the Royals to just 2 hits through 6 shutout innings, geting 6 strikeouts and 13 flyouts.

The only bright spot for Kansas City was Al Cowens’ inside-the-park solo home run in the top of the ninth. It was his 26th of the season.

We are now 3 games out with 4 to play and most of our starters are still tired. We’re gonna go all-out until we’re eliminated and try to maybe reach that 100-win plateau, but it’s 99 percent likely that Texas (now 100-58) will represent our division in the ALCS.

The Royals are heading back to Kansas City for what’s likely our 1977 swan song, a 4-game set with the California Angels.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Arlington: Rangers 7, Mariners 0 — Rangers starter Bert Blyleven pitched a 2-hit shutout, striking out 9 and walking 0 to pick up his 20th win of the season in front of a packed and raucous stadium that was no-doubt watching the scoreboard with delight. Mike Hargrove hit his 19th homer in the game. The Rangers’ magic number is now *2*.

At Chicago: Phillies 8, Cubs 6 — Chicago closer Bruce Sutter took a 5-4 lead into the ninth but blew it, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk as Philly secured its 81st win and guaranteed it at least won’t finish with a losing record. The Cubs’ magic number remains at *3* with 3 to play — and they will close out the regular season at Pittsburgh, which has 4 games to play — one more with the Mets and then three at home against Chicago.

At Pittsburgh: Pirates 2, Mets 1 — Willie “Pops” Stargell drove a bases-loaded RBI single through the right side of the infield to walk it off against Tom Seaver and the Mets, as the Pirates closed to within 1.5 games of the first-place Cubs. John Candelaria pitched a complete game to notch the win. He is now 16-9 with a 3.02 ERA. The surging Pirates have won 9 of their past 10.

At Atlanta: Astros 2, Braves 0 — Art Howe went 2-for-3 and had a 2-run double to account for all the offense. Meanwhile, Joaquin Andujar (13-12, 3.86) pitched a complete-game shutout. Houston is still 1.5 games behind the Reds in the NL West.

At Cincinnati: Reds 2, Padres 1 — Dan Driessen and Johnny Bench hit solo homers in the eighth inning to lift the first-place Reds over the stubborn Padres. The two-time defending World Champions (90-69) have lost a step in 1977 but are still on track to go for a third title. Their magic number is now at *3* with 3 games to play.

At Los Angeles: Dodgers 6, Giants 3 — The Dodgers still need a miracle, but their still in the mix. Reggie Smith blasted 2 homers (No. 35 & 36) and Tommy John (17-6, 2.24) struck out 8 over seven innings of work to keep L.A. 2.5 games back.

*******
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Game 158, Thursday September 29, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 7, Angels 0

WP: Andy Hassler (5-1, 2.01); LP: Gary Ross (14-12, 5.50); Sv: Bill Paschsall (1, 0.00)

Andy Hassler made the most of what’s likely his last start in an already-abbreviated 1977 campaign. He held the 97-win Angels to 2 hits over five shutout innings, and then 23-year-old rookie RHP Bill Paschall held them to just 1 hit and induced 2 double-play balls over the final four innings.

Now I’m wondering why I didn’t start Paschall against the Athletics in that last game at Oakland. No wonder his status was ‘angry emoticon’ when I checked it before this game.

Al Cowens continued to be white-hot at the plate. After hitting an inside-the-park homer in his final at-bat Wednesday night in Oakland, he hit homers in his first two at-bats against the Angels on Thursday and drove in 3 runs. Cowens now is hitting .325 with 28 homers and 116 RBI. Clint Hurdle, starting in place of a weary Darrell Porter, hit his 4th round-tripper of the year.

We came into this game tied for second place with the Angels, with both teams at 97-61. We now move ahead of California for second place — for now.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Arlington: Rangers 3, Mariners 2 — Bump Wills crossed the plate on a wild pitch for a walk-off win as Texas rallied from a 2-1 deficit in its final at-bat. Leroy Stanton hit his 33rd homer of the season for Seattle, which was on the verge of pulling the upset before it all fell apart in the bottom of the ninth on a pair of singles, a throwing error and then a wild pitch, as the standing-room-only stadium roared with joy. The Rangers’ magic number is now down to *1* and that means there will be champaign on ice in their locker room Friday night when they host Oakland.

At Pittsburgh: Pirates 6, Mets 5 — Phil Garner cracked a 2-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 4-4 tie, and Bucs closer Rich “Goose” Gossage survived a scary ninth inning to nail down his 34th save of the year. The Mets got their first two men aboard against Gossage in the ninth, and scored one of them on a fielder’s choice before Gossage got the third out. Dave Parker hit his 18th homer in this one as well. The Pirates have won 10 of their last 11 to get within a game of the idle first-place Chicago Cubs. A 3-game weekend series at Three-Rivers Stadium will decide the NL East Champion.

At Los Angeles: Dodgers 9, Astros 3 — Steve Garvey went 4-for-4 with a home run (No. 26) and rookie catcher Claude Westmoreland went 2-for-2 with a 3-run homer and 4 total RBI as the Dodgers ambushed young Houston starter Dave Smith (2-7, 5.88) who was on the mound because the Astros’ regular starters are worn out. Doug Rau (13-13, 3.20) got the win for Los Angeles. The two teams are now both 88-71 and tied for second place, 2 games behind the idle Reds.

***

Game 160, Friday September 30, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 4, Angels 0

WP: Paul Splittorff (12-11, 4.12); LP: Frank Tanana (19-6, 2.84)

Paul Splittorff turned in perhaps his finest outing of the season, out-dueling California’s flame-throwing lefty Frank Tanana, who was gunning for his 20th win.

Tanana pitched pretty darn well. Through eight innings he allowed just 1 run on 6 hits, and that run scored on a wild pitch with 2 outs in the third inning. The big blow for Kansas City came in the bottom of the eighth, with 2 on and 2 out. Slumping first-baseman John Mayberry crushed a 420-foot 3-run homer into the RF fountains to give us some crucial breathing room in the mother of all must-win games.

Splittorff finished off his 3-hit, complete-game shutout in the top of the ninth, working around a leadoff single by Jerry Remy to retire the next three hitters in order.

When the Royals (99-61) left the field after this game, they looked up at the scoreboard and saw that Oakland and Texas were tied 4-4 after eight innings in Arlington ….

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

At Arlington: Rangers 7, Athletics 4 — Texas third baseman Toby Harrah hit his second homer of the night, a 3-run blast in the bottom of the ninth, to lift the Rangers to their second walk-off win in as many games. Every member of the Rangers team left the bench in jubilation and waited for their team captain (and possible American League MVP) at home plate as he jogged home and into a crowd of leaping-for-joy teammates. As fans went crazy and began streaming over the short fence and onto the field, the scoreboard flashed it: TEXAS RANGERS 1977 AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST CHAMPS! Rangers players stayed on the field for nearly a half hour celebrating with their fans, then streamed down into their locker room where champaign bottles popped and players dumped foaming alcohol all over each other. — Harrah now has a .305 average with 33 homers and 138 RBI after driving in 5 in tonight’s clincher against the A’s. Reliever Adrian Devine (12-8, 3.14) earned the win for the Rangers, who will take on the New York Yankees when the American League Championship Series begins next week.

At Pittsburgh: Cubs 13, Pirates 1Ooof! The light at the end of the long tunnel for Pittsburgh turned out to be an oncoming train, as the Cubs shaved their magic number down to *1* with a single dominant performance at Three-Rivers Stadium. The Cubs smacked the Pirates around to the tune of 15 hits, including 7 doubles and a triple. Chicago starter Bill Bonham (22-9, 3.15) pitched a complete game and also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and 3 RBI. Ivan de Jesus also had 3 RBI at the top of the Cubs lineup. The once-surging Pirates, who thought they had the Cubbies right where they wanted them, now find themselves one loss away from elimination.

At Cincinnati: Braves 4, Reds 1 — The 110-losses (and counting) Braves threw a damper on the Reds’ three-peat hopes. Atlanta starter Dick Ruthven (acquired at midseason from Philadelphia) held the Reds to just 1 run on 8 hits over eight innings while Jack Billingham (14-10) yielded 4 runs on 9 hits over seven innings. Cincinnati now has just a 1-game lead in the NL West with 2 games to play.

At Los Angeles: Dodgers 3, Astros 2 — Reggie Smith singled and later beat a throw home from backup Astros shortstop Ramon Perez on a fielder’s choice as the Dodgers rallied for a walk-off win. The Astros got solo homers from Cesar Cedeno (No. 18) and Joe Rudi (No. 12) but couldn’t hold the 2-1 lead they had after seven innings. The Dodgers’ got a triple from Rafael Landestoy and then an RBI double from Mark Bradley to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Elias Sosa picked up the win in relief of Burt Hooten. Sosa is now 8-1 with 6 saves and a 1.67 ERA. The Dodgers are 1 game behind the Reds with 2 to play. The Astros are 2 behind.

***

Game 161, Saturday October 1, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 15, Angels 6

WP: Steve Renko (13-11, 4.14); LP: Dave Roberts (10-13, 4.80)

Neither team had much reason to be locked in for this game, but the Angels turned in a terrible performance as Kansas City clinched second place and earned its 100th win, a franchise milestone.

California committed 4 errors and gave up 4-run, 3-run and 6-run innings. The Royals banged out 15 hits, including homers by Al Cowens (No. 29) and John Mayberry (No. 22), who homered in his first at-bat Saturday after launching a 3-run shot in his last at-bat on Friday night.

Willie Wilson went 2-for-4 with 3 stolen bases to give him 25 for the year. He’ll be an exciting player to watch in 1978.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

ALREADY CLINCHED: New York Yankees (101-60, beat Detroit 3-1); Texas Rangers (102-59, lost to Oakland 4-3)

At Pittsburgh: Cubs 7, Pirates 3 — It’s all over in the National League East. The Chicago Cubs stared down their “curse” and won their first title of any kind since 1945. The Cubs kicked the door down in Pittsburgh, winning Friday night by a 13-1 final, and then scoring the first 6 runs on Saturday on their way to another easy win. Second baseman Mike Adams clubbed 2 homers (No. 18 & 19) and Ray Burris picked up the win, improving to 15-12 with a 4.17 ERA. Cubs reliever Willie Hernandez struck out Pirates outfielder Al Oliver for the final out, then broke into a huge grin as first baseman Bill Buckner and rookie catcher Mike Gordon, a September call-up, raced to the mound to hug him and start the celebration. In Chicagoland, Harry Caray’s booming voice “CUUUUUBS WIN!! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!” brought the news to hundreds of thousands of jubilant living rooms, barber shops and bar stools. Now the only question is, who will the Cubs face in the National League Championship Series?

At Cincinnati: Reds 10, Braves 3 — The defending champions ganged all up on poor Braves starter Larry McWilliams (3-19, 7.17) for 6 runs in the third inning to overtake an early 2-0 deficit. Later, rookie Frankie George hit his 4th homer and Johnny Bench mashed his 27th as Cincy poured on 15 hits to claim their 91st win of the season and stay a game up on their NL West pursuers. Pat Zachry (13-14, 4.48) earned the win.

At Los Angeles: Dodgers 8, Astros 7 — Dusty Baker scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to end a wild, back-and-forth battle with the now-eliminated Astros. The Dodgers stayed 1 game behind the first-place Reds, but can now hope for nothing better than forcing a 1-game playoff, and that’s only if they beat the Astros for a third straight game while the Reds lose at home to the worst team in baseball. But in 1977, Stayin' Alive was what it was all about, and that’s what counts for now in Dodgerland.

****

Game 162, Sunday October 2, 1977 ~

At Kansas City

Royals 7, Angels 4

WP: Dennis Leonard (20-4, 2.43); LP: Nolan Ryan (24-7, 2.86); Sv. Mark Littell (18, 4.57)

Hal McRae came into this game needing 2 RBI to reach 100 for the season. It didn’t look like he was going to get it. But then he came up in the bottom of the eighth inning in a 4-4 tie and crushed a 3-run homer to LF-CF to lift KC to its 101st win.

It was McRae’s 14th homer of the season.

Dennis Leonard picked up his 20th win despite missing over a month of time due to various neck and shoulder injuries. Leonard allowed 4 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 4 walks over eight innings. He struck out only 3.

The Royals gave Leonard a 3-0 lead to work with, but the Angels pecked away, and took a 4-3 lead on a pair of errors and a pair of hits in the top of the eighth. The Royals scored 4 runs in the bottom of the inning to rescue Leonard’s 20th win.

Mark Littell pitched around a 1-out walk to nail down his 18th save.

My 1977 Kansas City Royals finished the season at 101-61, but missed the playoffs.

The real-life 1977 Royals went 102-60, easily won the AL West and lost a heartbreaking 5-game series to the Yankees after dropping games 4 and 5.

We dealt with injuries to the starting pitching. Andy Hassler missed more than half the season. Leonard missed a month. Jim Colborn had 19 wins before an injury cost him the last two weeks of the season, and they were the most crucial two weeks. We had an inconsistent bullpen for much of the season, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some other teams’ pens.

PENNANT RACE NOTES:

ALREADY CLINCHED: New York Yankees (102-60, beat Detroit 15-4); Texas Rangers (103-59, beat Oakland 7-2); Chicago Cubs (92-70, lost 5-3 at Pittsburgh)

At Cincinnat: Braves 7, Reds 5 — Oh no, Cincy. Oh no no no … The 111-loss Braves got doubles from Chris Arnold and Gary Matthews during a 2-run eighth inning to snap a 5-5 tie and shock the Reds, who had champaign on ice waiting for them in their locker room. Braves rookie first baseman Dale Murphy went 3-for-5 with a 2-run homer. The Reds had to come back from 4-0 and 5-2 deficits just to get it to 5-5, but couldn’t stop the Braves from taking the lead yet again. So the Reds had to pack up the celebration bottles and put them in storage for at least one more day. And this is very, very good news in Dodgerland because …

At Los Angeles: Dodgers 5, Astros 4 — The Dodgers were cruising along with a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning when the scoreboard flashed the final from Cincinnati. Fans at Chavez-Ravine naturally became more excited — and maybe the players on the field did too — the Astros players, that is. Sensing the biggest spoiler opportunity ever, the Astros jolted the Dodgers with a pair of late 2-run homers. Cliff Johnson launched his 30th in the top of the eighth to make it 4-2, and then with 2 out in the top of the ninth — with Dodgers players waiting to rush the mound and celebrate catching the Reds on the final day — Enos Cabell cracked his 17th homer, tying the game 4-4 and sending closer Charlie Hough to his 13th blown save of the season. But in the bottom of the ninth, a pair of September call-ups became October heroes. John Balaz, batting for just the seventh time in a major league uniform, hit a 1-out single. He scored two batters later when Kelly Snider belted a game-winning triple to the RF-CF gap. As Balaz raced across the plate, the stadium shook with thundering cheers. The Dodgers had just won their fifth game in a row — and their third consecutive walk-off — to come from all the way back from third place and catch the Cincinnati Reds.

A Hollywood miracle? We’ll have to wait for the ending. The L.A. Dodgers will *host* the Cincinnati Reds in a one-game playoff at Chavez-Ravine at 7:05 pm local time.

Fred Norman (10-11, 3.69) will be on the mound for Cincy against Dodgers lefty Tommy John (17-6, 2.24).

It’s a jarring turn of events for the Reds, who went from the high of possibly celebrating a third consecutive (and hard-earned) NL West title at home, to having to catch a red-eye flight to the West Coast to play one more game.

There’s plenty of room at the Hotel California, though.

*********
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