It’s so odd.
The 1969 Royals of Kansas City Royals were an expansion team. Naturally, the Royals didn’t win 70 games that season. That was also the year in which the Orioles won 109 contests and blitzed through the American League. Bob Oliver led the Royals with 14 homers. In fairness, the O’s had only four players who hit more than 14 homers, led by Boog Powell’s 37.
So the first meeting of Orioles-Royals came on May 9, 1969 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. And Dick Drago pitched well for KC. And Tom Phoebus did well for Baltimore. On Powell’s two-run double in the seventh, the O’s led 2-1. And then the Royals hit reliever Dick Hall for a 3-run ninth and we fell, 4-2. No matter, the O’s were 20-11 and in first place. Why was this loss significant?
The next time, KC would beat the Orioles was also in May. That is the first of May, 1971. Evidently, the O’s were not happy with that first loss to an expansion club. The Orioles would go on a 23-game winning streak over the Royals from that point on. That is 11 straight wins in 1969 followed up by a perfect 12-0 sweep in 1970.
Who does that?
Now that doesn’t mean we beat the Royals 11-0 every game during the the winning streak. In fact the next day, the Orioles took a 5-1 lead heading to the fourth inning. The Royals did not go quietly into the night. By the eighth inning the game was knotted at 5-5.
So how did we win this game in the bottom of the night? Recall, this was before the designated hitter so manager Earl Weaver let pitcher, Jim Hardin, hit for himself. So Hardin homered and the game was over, 6-5.
In fact most of the wins that first season were one and two-run affairs. In fact, the only blowout came in August when another pitcher, Dave McNally, homered in a 10-2 win.
On May 7, 1970, the Royals looked to end the streak. KC took a 6-4 to the ninth in Baltimore. Our old, pal, Moe Drabowsky needed three outs to secure the win for the Royals. He got two outs before Frank Robinson cracked a game-winning three-run homer for the 7-6 win.
We needed such heroics in the last Royals series. Granted we ran into some good pitching. On Friday night we couldn’t touch that Yordano Ventura kid. The Birds didn’t look good offensively and fell 5-0.
On Saturday, we had some late heroics to pull out a win. And this time we jumped out early with a pair of runs. The Royals came back at us and the game went into extra innings. And the it seemed like the Royals had somewhere to go as they wanted to give the game to us. Pitcher Danny Duffy wasn’t satisfied with one throwing error. He had to make two. Finally, Nick Markakis took him out of his misery with a hit to left field and a 3-2 win went up on the board.
Sunday’s game pitted us against the tough James Shields. It was close in the sixth inning when Nellie Cruz cracked his 7th homer. We down 4-2. The final defeat was 9-3.
The not-so-good news is Chris Davis got hurt. The better news is Manny Machado will be back soon.