by Kevin Burton
Nobody used the term “walkoff” in the 70s but that’s what we had in game one of my 70-something World Series won by Cincinnati.
Kansas City tries to bounce back behind right hander Steve Busby. Busby won 56 games from 1973 to 1975 including two no-hitters. Injuries derailed what might have been a hall-of-fame career.
An already stoked Riverfront crowd gets even louder when the Reds score two runs in the first. Pete Rose doubled and scored on a single by Joe Morgan. Morgan stole second and scored on a single by last night’s hero Tony Perez.
That lead would last exactly two batters. John Mayberry singled, then former Red Hal McRae homered to tie the score.
After the McRae homer, the fans got quiet and the bats followed suit. Both teams went down in order the next three innings, Busby and Cincinnati starter Gary Nolan returning to form.
In the fifth Danny Driessen singled for the Reds but was caught stealing. Dave Concepcion reached on an error for the second straight game but was left on base.
In the sixth Amos Otis was hit by a pitch but there we no other baserunners. Darrell Porter singled in the seventh and John Wathan ran for him but the Royals did not advance him. Lou Piniella made the final out pinch hitting for Frank White. Cookie Rojas came in to play second base.
In the eighth Clay Carroll relieved Nolan. That began a parade of relievers for both teams. Willie Wilson greeted Carroll with a double. After Otis was retired, left hander Tom Hall was brought in to pitch to the two left handed hitters. George Brett got his first hit of the series, a double that scored Wilson and gave KC a 3-2 lead.
The Reds put the tying run on immediately with a single by Concepcion. Royals left hander Tom Burgmeier came in and got out of the inning. Ray Knight pinch hit for Cesar Geronimo and stayed in to play third base, Rose moving to right field, Ken Griffey to center field.
Pedro Borbon set the Royals down in order in the ninth. In the bottom half Burgmeier got Joe Morgan. Then Ted Abernathy was brought in to pitch to the right handed hitters.
George Foster hit a little chopper at the plate which Wathan grabbed but dropped for an error. Speedy Bobby Tolan pinch ran for Foster. Abernathy got Perez. But Johnny Bench then doubled scoring Tolan.
That’s a loss and a blown save for Abernathy in two games, but this latter was not his fault because of the error. The Royals walked Danny Driessen intentionally, then retired Concepcion to force extra innings.
Rojas singled to open the 10th. He got as far as third, but then Otis was retired to end the threat.
With one out in the 10th Steve Mingori came in to pitch to the top of the Reds order, allowing only a single to Rose.
Will McEnaney started the 11th for the Reds. After John Mayberry singled, Al Cowens pinch ran. But Rawly Eastwick came in and put out the fire. Cowens stayed in to play right field. Pete LaCock moved to first base.
Doug Bird came in to pitch the 11th and was greeted by a single from Tolan. One out later Tolan stole second. The Cincinnati faithful stood in anticipation of another walkoff win. But the Royals strategy paid off when Bench was walked intentionally and Driessen hit into a double play.
In the 12th Patek singled off Eastwick with two outs but was thrown out stealing. In the bottom half Rose singled but did not advance.
Having burned through the bullpen, Cincinnati turned to sometimes starter Jack Billingham in the 13th.
Wilson and Otis both singled, then Brett scored Wilson with a sacrifice fly. One out later McRae and Wathan both singled, scoring Otis to bring in another insurance run.
In his third inning of work, now leading by two, Bird retired Morgan and Tolan, which brought Perez to the plate.
Cue Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews.
“Little chopper to Rojas, on to first….and the Royals win it….So Perez ended the game last night with a long home run. Tonight he ends it with a weak grounder, and the Royals even the series.”
Game 3 will run tomorrow, with the venue changing to Royals Stadium. Left handers Paul Splittorff (KC) and Don Gullett (Cincy) as the starting pitchers.