American League Roundup : Leonard Returns With Three-Hit Shutout, 1-0
Dennis Leonard said it was just like a movie, except this time he was the star.
“I’m not a very good writer, but I couldn’t have written it any better. This is the biggest thrill I’ve ever had in baseball,” the Kansas City right-hander said Saturday after his three-hit performance lifted the Royals to a 1-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City.
Making his first start in nearly three years, Leonard retired 18 consecutive batters during one stretch. With a crowd of 24,332 standing and cheering, Leonard struck out Rance Mulliniks for his first victory since May 23, 1983.
Leonard (1-0) and Jim Acker (0-1) matched scoreless innings until the eighth, when pinch-hitter Jorge Orta’s two-out double produced the run.
Leonard, who had four operations on his left leg during a two-year period, said he never considered giving up.
“I’ve never seen anyone go through anything like that for three years, no way,” Royal Manager Dick Howser said.
“I think there’s only one word to describe Leonard today--awesome,” Royal third baseman George Brett said. “I don’t think that nine innings is enough to say a comeback is complete, but this game did prove he’s still got the heart, desire and competitiveness to do it.”
The shutout was the 22nd of Leonard’s career.
Kansas City left fielder Lonnie Smith had to be helped off the field in the seventh inning. He sprained his left ankle when he fell while making a diving catch of a fly ball hit by Willie Upshaw. Smith was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Leonard, 34, was injured when his knee buckled on a pitch to Baltimore’s Cal Ripken in the fourth inning of a game May 28, 1983. He underwent surgery the next day to repair a torn tendon below his left kneecap and subsequently underwent surgery three more times, the last July 31, 1984.
New York 7, Milwaukee 3--Butch Wynegar hit his second three-run homer of the season at New York as the Yankees raised their record to 4-1, their fastest start since 1976 when Billy Martin’s team went 5-1 en route to the American League pennant.
Dennis Rasmussen (1-0) went 5 innings for the Yankees, surrendering three hits and two earned runs. Brian Fisher, John Montefusco and Dave Righetti combined to finish, with Righetti earning his second save.
Milwaukee starter Ted Higuera (1-1), a winner on opening day, did not yield a hit until Dave Winfield led off the fifth with his first homer of the season, ending a string of 18 scoreless innings by Higuera against New York.
Cleveland 6, Detroit 2--Joe Carter, Brook Jacoby and Pat Tabler homered and Ernie Camacho worked out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the eighth inning for the Indians at Cleveland.
Carter’s two-run homer, his second of the season, highlighted a three-run first inning against loser Jack Morris (1-1), who has been tagged for six home runs in two appearances this season.
Cleveland starter Ken Schrom (2-0) a veteran right-hander acquired during the off-season from Minnesota, blanked Detroit on four hits over the first six innings but left after a single by Darrell Evans and Alan Trammell’s two-run homer to start the seventh.
Seattle 10, Minnesota 4--Gorman Thomas hit a tape-measure, two-run homer and Danny Tartabull added a two-run shot for the Mariners at Minneapolis.
Mike Morgan (1-0), who made only two starts for the Mariners last season due to a severe groin pull, gave up four hits, struck out two and walked four in 5 innings. Paul Mirabella, Bill Swift and Pete Ladd combined to work the final 3. Frank Viola (1-1) took the loss.
Chicago 3, Boston 1--Reid Nichols, formerly of Boston, drove in all three runs with a pair of singles and Tom Seaver posted his 305th career victory as the White Sox snapped a season-opening four-game losing streak at Chicago.
Seaver (1-1) allowed four hits in seven innings, striking out two and walking two.
Texas 2, Baltimore 1--Scott Fletcher singled home Oddibe McDowell from second for the winning run in the eighth inning at Arlington, Tex.
Texas reliever Greg Harris (1-1) got the win after starter Mickey Mahler went 6 innings and allowed one run on seven hits. Brad Havens (0-1) relieved Mike Flanagan with one out in the seventh.