Topeka Capital-Journal - October 15, 1980

Three homers not enough as KC falls, 7-6


By Alan Eskew


PHILADELPHIA -- Jim Beattie revisited.


Beattie, an untested rookie, beat Kansas City in the opening game of the 1978 playoffs when the New York Yankees had nobody else to pitch.


Tuesday night it was Bob Walk, another unheralded rookie, who doomed the Royals to defeat.


Walk was elected to start the opening game of the 1980 World Series because Philadelphia did not have another fresh arm to face the Royals.


So the Royals were in the enviable position of having 20-game winner Dennis Leonard facing a rookie who had not pitched in 12 days.


Walk gave up three homers, including two to Willie aikens, but managed to hold off the Royals with help from Tug McGraw as the Phils scraped out a 7-6 win in the Series opener.


That puts the Royals in a very uneviable position. Wednesday night they must beat Steve Carlton, 24-9, or they will be behind 0-2 in the best-of-seven series. Larry Gura, 18-10, will be the Royals starter.


"Walk did not pitch too bad for a rookie or a guy who hasn't been out there awhile," said Phils manager Dallas Green. "He kept us in the ball game."


Losing manager Jim Frey said, "It looked like he threw hard and we hit the ball hard off of him with three home runs. Like a lot of young pitchers, he struggled with his control but he got the ball over when he had to.


"If the starting pitcher holds them, this game is not anymore complicated than that."


Leonard failed to do that although the Royals staked him to a 4-0 lead.


Leonard, who retired the first seven batters, failed to last beyond the fourth inning, giving up six runs on six hits, including a three-run homer to Bake McBride in the third inning.


"That's not the Dennis Leonard I'm sure the American League is used to seeing," Green said. "He was not throwing the way he was capable of."


The Royals utilized the long ball to hand Leonard a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the third.


Amos Otis became the 16th player in World Series history to homer in his first at-bat. Otis, on a 2-1 count, pounded a Walk pitch over the left-field fence with Darrell Porter, who had walked, aboard in the second inning.


In the third inning, Willie Aikens, who celebrated his 26th birthday Tuesday, wafted a two-homer over the right-center wall on a 1-2 count. Hal McRae, who had singled up the middle, was along for the ride.


The Royals had a chance to pad their lead after Aikens' blast. Porter walked for the second time and Amos Otis beat out an infield single.


Clint Hurdle lined a single to left field and Porter was waved home by third base coach Gordy MacKenzie. Lonnie Smith's throw home beat Porter, who ignored Frank White's plea to slide. Instead Porter stutter-stepped in, out, trying to pry the ball loose from catcher Bob Boone, and was easily tagged out.


"I never expected the ball to get there as quickly as it did," Porter said. "I tripped over third base and lost my momentum. Going home I had it in my mind that I wanted to slide, but I could never get my feet in the proper position. If I tried to slide, I would have broken my ankle."


"It looks like now that he should have gone but at the time I thought he made the right play," Frey said. "I would have preferred that he slide. If he tried to knock Boone into the cheap seats he could have gotten hurt too."


That was the last chance the Royals had to score until Aikens homered for the second time in the eighth inning. George Brett opened the inning with a double to the left-center gap.


Aikens is only the third player in history to hit two home runs in his first Series game, but it was of little consequence.


"I knew both of them were gone as soon as I hit them," Aikens said. "In the eighth inning, when he got behind me 2-0, I knew he had to come in with a fast one and I really pounced on it.


"But I don't feel too happy now because we're down one game to nothing. I'd be happy to go 0-for-4 tomorrow, as long as we can win."


In the bottom of the third, the Phillies erupted for five runs, three on McBride's homer, one on a Brett mental lapse and one on a Boone double.


Larry Bowa chopped a single up the middle and stole second when Porter's throw was high to open the inning. Boone lined a double over Brett's head and into the left-field corner to drive in Bowa.


Smith followed with a crisp single to left and Boone stopped at third, but only briefly. Smith fell while rounding first and Brett with the ball in hand started running toward him. Twice Brett looked back at Boone, who was inching closer to home since nobody was covering third.


When Brett finally threw the ball to White at second base, Boone broke for the plate. White had no chance to throw home to get Boone and had to be content with catching Smith in the rundown.


That play seemed to unnerve Leonard, who proceeded to hit Pete Rose with a pitch and walked Mike Schmidt. McBride followed with a home run to right.


"Usually my ball runs away from a left-handed hitter," Leonard said. "I wanted to start it out in the middle of the plate and have it break away from him. but I got it too close and it wound up right in the middle."


That five-run inning seemed to lift Walk, who was the first rookie to start the opening game of the World Series since Joe Black of the Brooklyn Dodgers won the 1952 opener. Walk retired the next nine Royals.


The Phils were not content ot sit on that one-run lead. They scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.


Boone doubled, this time to the right-field corner, with two outs in the sixth inning to score Trillo, who has reached first on a high chopper that never left the infield.


Boone's double was the last pitch that Leonard threw. Frey yanked Leonard in favor of rookie Renie Martin.


Martin, as he has done so often this season, experienced control problems in the fifth. He walked Schmidt, surrendered a single to McBride and hit Luzinski with a pitch to load the bases with one out.


Garry Maddox worked a 3-2 count off Martin before hitting a sacrifice fly to Willie Wilson to plate Schmidt to give the Phillies a three-run advantage.


In the Royals' fifth McRae and Brett accounted for 650-feet of outs. McRae led off with a line drive that McBride caught with his back to the right-field fence. Brett followed by smashing a Walk fastball that Maddox snagged while leaping at the center-field wall.


The Royals drew within one in the eighth on Aikens' homer, which finished Walk.


"The Royals keep clawing at you," Green said.


"We'll have to look at what's written down on Aikens. We might have to pitch to him differently tomorrow night."


McGraw, who pitched in all five playoff games against Houston, came out of the bullpen to get the final six outs. He struck out U.L. Washington and Wilson to end the game.