The pattern changed in the eighth when each team scored twice without any more fireworks by Brett or Jackson. With one out in the decisive home half of the inning, White singled to center and Herzog replaced lefthander Paul Splittorff, bringing in righty Doug Bird to pitch to the righthanded Munson. Herzog is always making percentage moves like that. They usually work from April through September, but not all that often in October. Herzog wanted a double play; instead Bird threw a high fastball that Munson launched 430 feet.
Although Munson's homer won the game, the difference between the two teams could be seen in other ways, too. With disastrous frequency, the Royals committed the kind of misplay that can mean defeat in games at this level of competition. There was Fred Patek throwing the ball into the stands in the fourth, allowing a run to score. There were the two runners stranded at third base, in the second with one out and in the sixth with none out. There was Amos Otis forgetting there were two outs in the third and failing to score from first on Porter's double. Ooh, ouch, ow!
Most painful of all was Kansas City's plight after the defeat in Game 3: the Royals trailed 2-1 in the series, with Guidry rested and ready. " Cy Young," Jackson called him on Friday night. "Who could ask for more?" Lemon asked. "Well, he isn't God," someone told Herzog. "He's pretty close," said Whitey.
The only mistake Guidry and the Yankees made was pitching to Brett to start the game. Since moving from second in the batting order to the leadoff spot in Game 2, Brett had singled and homered in his first at bats and had raised his three-year playoff average to .385. This time he tripled and scored, but he did not reach base the rest of the night. Because Brett was so much the heart of Kansas City's offense in the series, keeping him off the bases would have seemed enough for the Yankees to breeze to a clinching victory. But Leonard, who was actually sharper than Guidry, made it a deliciously tense contest, during one stretch retiring 13 Yankees in a row without allowing the ball to leave the infield.
Leonard needed to be every bit this tough, because after the Royals scored in the first, Guidry allowed just five hits and permitted only one runner to reach third. Another who tried, Willie Wilson, was cut down stealing on an incorrect call by Umpire Lou DiMuro that the Royals will be complaining about all winter. When Otis led off the ninth with a double, Lemon called for Gossage, who struck out Clint Hurdle, and got Porter and Pete LaCock on outfield flies. Then, suddenly, the Yankees had no more American League battles to fight and plenty to be proud of. "No matter what happens in the Series, we've had a helluva year," said Piniella.
If some Royals remained unconvinced of New York's superiority, there was nothing the Yankees could do to convince them further. "I want them next year," Porter said. "I want them next year." There is probably nothing the Yankees would enjoy more.