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October 9, 1977 at Royals Stadium
Yankees 5, Royals 3
Yankees Win Best of Five Game Series 3-2
The Yankees won the American League pennant for the second straight season with an exciting come from behind win over the Royals. Ron Guidry got the nod for the Yankees and the Royals tagged him early. In the first inning, Guidry was knocked around for two runs that were centered on a George Brett tripled and while the Yankees put a run on the board in the third on an RBI single by Thurman Munson, the Royals made it 3-1 and knocked Guidry out of the game in the bottom of the third when Al Cowens drove home Hal McRae with an RBI single.
Mike Torrez relieved Guidry and he was gold. He held the Royals to just three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 scoreless innings and while the Yankees didn’t mount their big comeback until after he left the game, he was the guy kept things in check.
With the score still 3-1, the Yankees finally struck in the eighth inning. Willie Randolph led off with a single before Thurman Munson struck out. Lou Piniella moved Randolph over to third with a single and then Reggie Jackson came up with the clutch hit and he drove home Randolph with an RBI single.
Sparky Lyle got the final batter out in the eighth inning despite throwing his share of pitches in yesterday’s game and he stranded two runners to keep the score at 3-2 as the Yankees went to bat in the ninth. Paul Blair led off with a single and he moved to second on Roy White’s walk. Mickey Rivers then tied the game up with an RBI single that tied Blair and then Willie Randolph drove home the winning run with a sac. fly. The Yankees added a run when Mickey Rivers scored on a George Brett error but that last run turned out to be unneccesary.
Sparky Lyle put the Royals down in the ninth and the Yankees had escaped the jaws to capture the pennant. Now they’d get a chance to do what they couldn’t do in 1976 and that’s win it all.
October 8, 1977 at Royals Stadium
Yankees 6, Royals 4
Best of Five Game Series Tied 2-2
The Yankees came up big and forced a game five behind some nice pitching by Sparky Lyle and some early hitting by Mickey Rivers and Thurman Munson. The Yankees scored a run in the first to take an early lead and it Mickey Rivers who started things off with a double. He moved to third on Graig Nettles singled and then Rivers scored on Thurman Munson’s ground out. The Yankees added two more in the second when Bucky Dent doubled home Willie Randolph and Dent then scored on Rivers’ single. The Yankees kept it up in the third with another run on Lou Piniella’s RBI single. It was only the bottom of the third inning and the Yankees had a 4-0 lead.
The Royals finally battled back in the bottom of the third. A pair of triples resulted in two runs off of Yankee’s starter Ed Figueroa. The Yankees added a fifth run in the top of the fourth on Nettle’s RBI single before the Royals struck again.
In the bottom of the fourth, Figueroa and Dick Tidrow combined to give up two more runs and just like that, the Yankees big lead evaporated. Billy Martin then made a controversial move and went to his best reliever, Sparky Lyle, in the fourth inning. With two runners on, he got George Brett to line out to end the inning and then he went on to throw five more scoreless frames to close the game out. Thurman Munson drove home Mickey Rivers on a sac. fly in the ninth for a unneccesary insurance run.
The win forced a winner take all game five. The big question would be whether Sparky Lyle’s long outing would preclude him from pitching in the deciding game assuming he was even needed.
October 6, 1977 at Yankee Stadium
Yankees 6, Royals 2
Best of Seven Game Series Tied 1-1
Ron Guidry had a nice start and the Cliff Johnson had a nice day at the plate as the Yankees evened their series with the Royals at a game a piece. The game was actually close through the top of the sixth until the Yankees exploded for three runs in the bottom of the sixth to open the game up and take the lead for good. Guidry went the distance and he gave up just two runs on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
Johnson finished the game with a double, a homerun, two RBIs and two runs. Thurman Munson had three singles and a run while Willie Randolph went two for four with a run and an RBI.
Game three would now move things to Kansas City. It was now effectively a three game series so while every game counted before, the stakes were even higher as the Yankees took to the road.
October 5, 1977 at Yankee Stadium
Royals 7, Yankees 2
Royals Lead Best of Five Series 1-0
Don Gullett and Dick Tidrow were pummelled in the first three innings as the pitchers spotted the Royals six runs before the Yankees even got on the board. Gullett took the loss and he gave up four of those runs in just two innings while Tidrow was tagged for the final three Royals runs (two of which came in the third) in 6 2/3 innings of relief.
Thurman Munson put the Yankees on the board in the third inning with a two run homer. Unfortunately that just turned a 6-0 game into a 6-2 game and that was the extent of the Yankees offensive production.
Mickey Rivers had a nice day at the plate. He went three for four and he scored on MUnson’s homer. Cliff Johnson was the only other Yankee with two hits in the game.
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