When Lloyd Moseby stepped into the batter's box in the gathering gloom at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium, he was an angry young man.
Moments earlier, in the top of the 10th inning Wednesday, Moseby had made a diving stab at Frank White's sinking line drive. But umpire Dave Phillips ruled Moseby had trapped the ball and Willie Wilson scored to give the Kansas City Royals a 5-4 lead.
Now, the Toronto Blue Jays had their last chance. If they didn't score, the American League Championship Series would be tied 1-1 for Friday's third game here (8:15 p.m., WRC-TV-4).
"If we had lost," Moseby said, "it would have been awful tough to take. I was just glad to get the chance to hit."
Moseby got his hit and the Blue Jays got their remarkable 6-5 victory to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Even before Moseby stepped up to face the Royals' Dan Quisenberry, it had been a strange week for him.
Last Friday, he had dropped an easy fly ball to give the New York Yankees the winning run in what could have been the clinching game for the Blue Jays. The next day, Moseby hit a home run for the Blue Jays' first run and Toronto won, 5-1, finally clinching the East Division.
By the 10th inning Wednesday, Moseby was zero for eight in the series. He had almost made a heroic catch. But only almost.
"I was thinking I didn't want my mother going around having to listen to people tell her that her boy hadn't gotten a hit yet," Moseby said. "I wanted to do something to make my mother proud."
Tony Fernandez was on second, representing the tying run. "I wanted to get it back," Moseby said. "I was upset because I knew I caught the ball and yet we were still looking right at a loss. I can't ever remember wanting a hit as much as that one."
Moseby got his hit, a clean single to right, and Fernandez scored to tie the game at 5. One botched pickoff throw and an Al Oliver single later, Moseby scored the winning run, throwing his arms gleefully into the air as he crossed the plate.
"You aren't going to keep Lloyd Moseby down forever," said Blue Jays right fielder Jesse Barfield. "Look at what happened after he dropped the ball last week. He came right back and hit the homer the next day. That's the kind of competitor he is."
Moseby is, in many ways, the prototype Blue Jay. He is young (25), swift (37 stolen bases) and powerful (18 home runs). He is also an excellent center fielder, one who should be judged by the spectacular catch he made/almost made on Wednesday rather than his goof last Friday.
He has played six years in the majors already after having been the No. 2 pick in the entire draft in 1978. He is bright and funny. After Wednesday's game Moseby delivered a long speech explaining how certain he was that he had made the catch on White's ball.
Then he paused, smiled and said, "So, like I said, the ump made a great call. All the umps are great human beings."
In the end, the call was moot.
"Doesn't matter now," said White. "I thought he missed it, but they won. We blew the game anyway."
While Moseby and his teammates filled their clubhouse with loud music and laughter, the Royals were an angry, frustrated bunch.
"This doesn't even feel like a playoff," snapped George Brett. "Every time I look up someone has a Canadian flag or something waving. These people think this is the Olympics or something. I'll be glad to go home and see Old Glory flying."
A moment later, when a New York writer made reference to the Royals' 10-game postseason losing streak, Brett screamed several obscenities at him. Even Quisenberry, the laid-back relief pitcher, was uptight. When someone asked him about shortstop Onix Concepcion's failure to throw out Fernandez on a routine ground ball to start the 10th, Quisenberry also snapped.
"What do you want me to do, criticize my teammates?" he said. "No way. We've been through a tough year together. I'm not going to stab anybody in the back."
Even the usually easy-going Dick Howser, now 0-11 as a playoff manager, let the pressure show a little bit. Talking about Concepcion's miscue, which was ruled a hit, Howser shook his head. "Base hit my butt," he said. "If you can't make plays like that, you can't win these games. We just handed it right over to them. Now, we gotta get a big game from Sabes or we're in trouble."
Kansas City's hopes now rest squarely on pitcher Bret Saberhagen's very narrow shoulders. At 21, he is a 20-game winner, a Cy Young candidate.
"I know the situation," he said calmly. "We always seem to dig holes for ourselves. Nothing is easy with this team. I just have to go out and pitch well Friday and hope we get going. We're still not out of it. They still have to win four games."
Moseby shrugged when he heard that. "It's true, no doubt about it," he said. "But right now, I'd much rather be us than them."
With all the concern about frigid weather in Toronto, it is here where weather might be a problem. For the third straight day, Kansas City was hit with heavy rain today, causing flooding around the city. The temperature never got much above 40 degrees. Friday's forecast is a chance of more rain with night-time temperatures in the low 40s.