by Kevin Burton
The signs carried by Royals fans said “we believe” as well they should. The Royals themselves believed.
The vaunted Big Red Machine had been contained in Cincinnati where the teams split two games, but had exploded for seven runs in each of the two games at Royals Stadium.
The Reds had Gary Nolan pitching and with the exception of Rawly Eastwick, the entire bullpen rested and ready.
The inability of Royals pitching to finish off innings now threatened to finish them off in the series.
Tony Perez hit a two-out three-run homer to break open game three. Cesar Geronimo did likewise in the second inning of game four.
Now in game five, Ken Griffey, who was just 3-for-21 in the series, sent a Steve Busby fastball over the right field wall for a three run homer. That made the score 4-0 as Danny Driessen had already driven in a run with a sacrifice fly.
No game is over in the second inning. But the Griffey home run took the wind out of Royals Stadium and the Royals.
Kansas City needed to chip away to stay in the game. They got a Hal McRae double in the second but left him stranded. Willie Wilson was at first base in the third after hitting into a force play. Johnny Bench then got a measure of revenge by throwing Wilson out trying to steal.
The Reds put two on with one out in the third and the Royals pulled the plug on Busby. They went to lefty Larry Gura face left-handed hitters.
Gura did the job in the third and the fourth keeping Cincinnati off the scoreboard. Al Fitzmorris made his first appearance in the series, giving up just one hit over the fifth and sixth.
Meanwhile beginning with a pop up by Amos Otis in the fourth, Nolan set down nine straight Royals, leaving them just three innings to catch up and extend the series.
Left hander Steve Mingori continued the Royals good bullpen work, retiring Griffey and Joe Morgan in the seventh.
But Doug Bird, who had been so good in nailing down the Royals game two win, didn’t have it in game five. He gave up consecutive hits to George Foster, Perez and Bench to allow another two-out run. Danny Driessen then singled to make it 6-1 Reds.
A leadoff hit by Otis in the seventh was the first sign of life for Kansas City since the third. The Reds immediately went to the bullpen, leaving nothing to chance.
Cincinnati brought in Freddie Norman to pitch to left handers George Brett and John Mayberry. Brett singled and Mayberry drove home Otis with a sacrifice fly. But Norman retired McRae and pinch hitter John Wathan.
In the eighth Ray Knight had a pinch-hit single but Pete Rose hit into a double play. Once again KC could not finish the inning. Tom Burgmeier allowed hits by Griffey and Morgan, before Ted Abernathy was brought in to face the right handed batters.
A hit by Foster drove in Griffey with a seventh run – all seven having scored with two outs.
Norman went to the mound in the eighth with a six-run lead and a stable of great relievers behind him. With six outs to glory, he would give way as Nolan had, at the first sign of trouble.
But there was none. The Royals went down in order in the eighth, registering only a two-out single by Brett in the ninth.
Marty Brennaman on Reds radio.
“That is only the fifth hit by the Royals. Brett has two of them. Masterful performance today by Reds pitchers, Nolan and now Freddie Norman. Mayberry is 0-for-2 with a sac fly RBI.”
“First pitch, swung on, looper to short, Concepcion has it and THIS one belongs to the Reds!”
“The Reds have come into Kansas City, swept three games and are world champions!”
So Cincinnati wins four games to one, with the road team winning four of the five games. We’ll run a World Series wrap-up Wednesday, to close out this Page 7 special feature.