Frank White, the second baseman for the Kansas City Royals, is one of baseball's most easygoing people. He is friendly to strangers, polite to a fault, always easy to talk to.
Tonight, after the Royals had been embarrassed, 6-1, by the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League championship series, White practically was snarling as he stalked to the shower. "Ain't nothing to say about it," he said. "He pitched good, we didn't. They played good, we didn't. They won, we lost. Ain't nothing else to say."
Even in his anger, White was right. This was a night the Royals would like to forget quickly and one the Blue Jays and this nouveau-baseball town probably will savor for a long time.
For Toronto, the script could not have been written better. On a balmy 60-degree night in Exhibition Stadium, with 39,115 -- including Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney -- rocking with delight from the start, the Blue Jays blew the Royals away to take a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven series. Game 2 will be here Wednesday at 3 p.m.
"People thought we might be tight because this was our first playoff," said Blue Jays center fielder Lloyd Moseby. "But after the Yankee series last week, this didn't feel like very much pressure at all."
If anybody played as if there was pressure, it was the playoff-wise Royals. Their starting pitcher, Charlie Leibrandt, was shelled, failing to get a batter out in the third inning. By the time he left, Leibrandt had given up seven hits and five runs and had retired only six of 16 batters.
"When you aren't pitching well, people are going to get a lot of hits off you," Leibrandt said. "It doesn't matter how hard they hit them. Sure, it's a little frustrating. But I pitched poorly tonight, that's all there is to it."
Leibrandt's performance was 180-degrees different than his counterpart, winning pitcher Dave Stieb. Stieb and Leibrandt finished 1-2 in the league in ERA this season and, since the Blue Jays are supposed to have trouble with left-handers (24-26 during the year), this was supposed to be a tight pitcher's duel.
Instead, it was a laugher. Stieb was overpowering. He struck out eight. He retired 12 men in a row from the fourth to the eighth innings. He left after eight innings of three-hit ball because Manager Bobby Cox wanted to rest him so he can come back on three days' rest for Game 4 Saturday.
"Having the runs early really helped a lot," said Stieb, whose record was just 14-13 because his team often didn't score runs for him. "All my pitches were working tonight. I had good control of the fast ball, the slider was breaking well, the curve was going where I wanted and I had control of the change-up."
When Stieb is getting all four of his pitches over, there are very few teams that can hit them, especially one with a .252 batting average. Only George Brett, with a single and a double, had any kind of luck against Stieb.
"He just pitched a Dave Stieb game," Brett said. "There's not much you can say about the guy. He'd throw that slider for the first two pitches and it would break about two inches. Then he'd throw another and it would break two feet. He was tough."
Leibrandt wasn't. He was 3-0 lifetime against the Blue Jays coming in but, after a routine first inning, he began sinking in the second.
Jesse Barfield started the trouble with a single to center. Leibrandt then hit Cecil Upshaw, a clue that his normally superb control was off. Garth Iorg then lifted a routine pop to left field. Lonnie Smith dropped the ball. Even though he was able to force Barfield at third, the play was an indication of the fog in which the Royals were playing.
Ernie Whitt singled to right, scoring Upshaw, and Tony Fernandez followed with a hit to deep short that scored Iorg to make it 2-0. Leibrandt got out of further trouble, but didn't get an out in the third.
Cliff Johnson, the player who many of the Blue Jays think is the key to cracking Kansas City's left-handed pitching, led off with a double to right-center. Barfield walked and Upshaw singled to load the bases.
That was all for Leibrandt. Steve Farr came on and gave up an RBI single to Rance Mulliniks -- the left-handed half of Toronto's third base platoon -- then walked Whitt to make it 4-0. Fernandez's sacrifice fly made it 5-0.
That was more than enough for Stieb, especially since the Royals have not overcome a five-run lead all season. Nonetheless, Toronto scored a run in the fourth that was a microcosm of the entire evening.
George Bell led off with a single. He was running with the pitch as Johnson grounded to short. By the time first baseman Steve Balboni got the ball in his glove, Bell was running around second, head down, intent on taking third.
Shocked, Balboni double-clutched as Brett scrambled toward the bag. Balboni threw the ball at least 20 feet over Brett's head, caroming it off the tarpaulin. Bell scored easily, making it 6-0. Mulroney decided to go for a walk through the stands.
After that, it was Stieb's show, until Cox decided 101 pitches was enough and brought Tom Henke in to pitch the ninth. It was Henke who allowed Brett's third hit and the only Kansas City run.
"If it was still best-of-five, this loss would mean more," said the Royals' Dick Howser, who is 0-10 in postseason play as a manager. "We just have to come back tomorrow, get a split and go home."
Easy to say. Just as easy to say as Brett's pre-series statement that a quick start for the experienced Royals might rattle the inexperienced Blue Jays. "Still only one game," Brett said. "If we lose tomorrow, then it could be a long series for us."
His friend, center fielder Willie Wilson, was a little less optimistic. "The idea of jumping on them went right out the window tonight," he said. "We better roll with it and come right back."