KANSAS CITY—Lester wouldn’t talk to me for three days while my Red Sox were busy spanking his Twins, but now that we have to face Dennis Leonard and his Royals, he’s getting geek-cocky all over again.
“Think you’ll still have isolated power in Royals Stadium?” he says, raising a middle finger he’s been jabbing his calculator with, “Isolate this.” Actually, he’s got nothing to brag about. Since K.C.’s hot 16-4 start, they’ve been playing a game under .500, and Leonard’s been the only guy in their rotation who hasn’t been shaky lately.
I take that back. He almost blew a big lead his last time out in Fenway, and Boston’s peppering his butt in the early going today. I think I called them the Visigoths after their latest hacking of the Twins, but in this more spacious arena, a pack of wild dingos comes to mind.
Leonard is in trouble practically every inning. Yaz walks and Rice singles with two outs in the 1st but Evans whiffs. Lynn and Hobson walk in the 2nd, and with two outs Carbo bombs his 22nd homer for a 3-0 Sox lead. Rice doubles to start the 3rd, but Leonard gets Evans, Lynn and Hobson.
Meanwhile Don Aase gets the first nine Royals he faces, before Poquette starts the K.C. 4th with a line single. Team MVP so far Al Cowens then rips a triple into the gap for their first run, and after Brett bounces out, Mayberry singles to make it 3-2.
Back come the barbarians, as Yaz, Rice and Evans all single to begin the 5th, but Leonard holds the fort, getting Lynn on a force at home and whiffing Hobson and Burleson. Bottom of the 5th, Cowens singles in the tying run with one out, Brett and Mayberry follow with scoring doubles, and the Royals are up 5-3. Lester is an inch away from me pouring my cold soda down his back.
Leonard continues to fool nobody, though. Yaz singles to start the 7th but a whiff and DP follow. A Lynn walk, Burleson single and botched grounder by Patek fill the bases in the 8th, but Carbo fans and Fisk flies out. Same story in the 9th. With two gone Evans singles and this time Brett kicks a ball away. Burleson creams a pitch toward left field but Patek snags it for the win!
Thirteen freaking runners left on base by Boston, and only five for them. The only thing I like about my team losing is I can get through another night on the Funkyland Express without everyone hating me. Even Mikey, who stayed on the bus to watch the Phillies game on TV so he didn’t have to look at the dreaded Royals Stadium fountain again, had nothing but a big grin for me.
They don’t need to worry yet. Between the widespread streakiness and the way these two races are packed, it seems more and more like our fates won’t be decided until the final week.
BOS 030 000 000 – 3 11 0
K.C. 000 230 00x – 5 9 2
W-Leonard L-Aase HR: Carbo GWRBI-Brett
The Buzz Line
YANKEES 5-13-0, at TWINS 3-7-1
Yet another Minnesota loss, despite the Catfish dishing up taters to Bostock and Hisle. Goltz has a bad outing, and with the number of Yanks he puts on base, it’s a miracle he doesn’t lose by seven. New York stays a percentage in front of K.C.
at RANGERS 4-7-1, INDIANS 3-5-0
Back home in Arlington, Barker and Moret help Doyle Alexander survive a late Tribe scare, as Harrah and Dave May do some yard work off Eckersley.
at WHITE SOX 4-6-0, ORIOLES 2-7-0
It’s getting awfully depressing in Birldland as they sink to .500. Palmer outpitches Barrios but Gamble and Essian reach him for homers that socks the game away late for the Sox.
PHILLIES 9-11-2, at CUBS 7-9-2
The Cubbies smash three homers off Carlton, score seven runs—and lose anyway. Bonham’s 4-3 lead into the 7th disappears under a 6-run avalanche before anyone is retired, and the Philly Comebackers modus their operandi.
EXPOS 3-9-0, at CARDS 2-8-0
Rasmussen has two outs to go in the top of the 9th for a 2-1 win when Cromartie works him for a walk. Perez whiffs, and Hawk Dawson shoots a laser over the fence for a gut-punching homer.
PIRATES 7-9-1, at ASTROS 4-8-1
The Candelaria/Richard rematch goes all Pittsburgh’s way. Down 2-zip in the 4th, Stargell Pops one over the CF fence to tie the game, before the Bucs plate four more in the 5th. Candy Man is rattled for a change, but Goose and Grant Jackson combine for the big save as they leap over the Reds in the standings again.
at DODGERS 4-6-0, REDS 2-2-0
About those fading Reds…Two hits off Burt Hooton, and Billingham lets an early 2-0 lead get away, the winner coming on Hooton’s single. After owning the league for the better part of three weeks, George Foster has moved into an out-house.
American League through Tuesday, July 22
National League through Tuesday, July 22