4. October 9, 1977: ALCS Game 5, Yankees vs. Royals
But this time, the Kansas City Royals were no longer an inexperienced team getting their first taste of post-season play. Oh no, the 1977 Royals won a franchise best 101 games (the most in baseball in 1977) and were the favorites to win the AL pennant.
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Exactly one year after their 1976 showdown, the Yankees and KC Royals faced off for another deciding Game 5. But this time, they were playing in Royals Stadium.
George Brett gave the Kansas City Royals an early 1-0 lead with a triple to deep center that drove in Hal McRae. Brett slid hard into third base, causing Graig Nettles to kick him while Brett was still on the ground. That touched off a benches-clearing brawl which you can see by playing the above video.
The KC Royals carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning when starter Paul Splittorff gave up a leadoff single to New York second baseman Willie Randolph. Reliever Doug Bird allowed a pinch hit single to Reggie Jackson to cut the Kansas City lead to one run.
The KC Royals bullpen utterly failed in the ninth inning, allowing the Yankees to score three runs. Starter Dennis Leonard came in as a reliever to open the inning, giving up a single to light-hitting right fielder Paul Blair and a walk to pinch hitter Roy White. Lefty Larry Gura entered the game and promptly allowed the tying run to score on a hit by center fielder Mickey Rivers.
The final run scored on an error by third baseman George Brett.
For the second year in a row, the KC Royals bullpen failed in the ninth inning of ALCS Game 5. In 1977, it was worse because they blew a lead at home with the World Series within easy reach.
Next: October 19, 1980