Game 6 of the American League Championship Series is Tuesday in Toronto's Exhibition Stadium and the questions surrounding it are as follows:
* Can the Toronto Blue Jays, leading the series, three games to two, avoid a case of the shakes and clinch their first pennant?
* Can the Kansas City Royals, a team held together by good pitching and George Brett, survive the way they did Sunday, scratching for two runs and hanging on for a 2-0 victory?
* Will the beleaguered umpiring crew, which has been involved in at least one controversial play in each of the last four games, get through a game without another?
The Blue Jays' hopes will rest with 35-year-old Doyle Alexander, who was hit hard in Game 3, mostly by Brett, who had a double and two home runs off him.
While Toronto Manager Bobby Cox will go with Alexander on three days rest, Kansas City's Dick Howser will gamble, starting 23-year-old right-hander Mark Gubicza instead of the more experienced Bud Black.
"We had Buddy up in the bullpen three times today (Sunday)," Howser said. "If we needed a lefty, we were going to him because there was no sense holding anyone back. He's tired from that throwing. We have confidence in Gubicza. He's had a good year."
Gubicza was 14-10 after a horrendous start. He pitched well down the stretch, but the Blue Jays hit right-handers better than left-handers. Toronto was 24-26 during the regular season against lefties and almost was shut down completely Saturday and Sunday by left-handers Charlie Leibrandt and Danny Jackson.
But Howser feels he has no choice. Gubicza was visibly excited when he found out he would be starting.
"Last year in the playoffs, I never got a chance to pitch and it was disappointing," he said. "This year, I started so poorly (1-5, 4.95 ERA into June) that I find it really ironic that here we are in October and with the whole season on the line Dick has enough confidence in me to give me the ball. I hope I take advantage of this chance."
The Blue Jays still must be considered heavy favorites to win the series. After all, only four teams in baseball history have come back from 3-1 deficits in best-of-seven series to win (Pirates, 1925; Yankees, 1958; Tigers, 1968; Pirates, 1979).
What's more, the home team has won four of five games so far and the pattern throughout has been that the team batting last usually has been the aggressor, especially on the bases.
But the Royals are not without hope. They came back to win Game 5, thanks to Jackson, and now feel if they can get offensive help for Brett, they can win.
"They made it clear after Friday that they aren't going to pitch to George," said designated hitter Hal McRae. "That means the guys behind him -- me, Frank (White) and Steve (Balboni) -- have got to do something. It's as simple as that."
The lack of consistent run-producers behind Brett is Kansas City's weakness. If one takes out Brett's .335 average, the Royals hit .242 as a team during the regular season. In the playoffs, McRae, White and Balboni have nine hits (one more than Brett) and three RBI (one fewer than Brett).
For the Royals to have a chance, they must get a good game from Gubicza. If they can win Game 6, 20-game winner Bret Saberhagen, who has pitched poorly in his last two starts, will be ready to go with four days rest for Game 7.
The Royals also must hope that ace reliever Dan Quisenberry, who has failed twice in this series, can excel if called upon. For the moment, Howser may go first to Steve Farr, the former DeMatha High and American University pitcher who pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings Friday.
The Blue Jays must hope that their pitching staff doesn't tire. Alexander will be going on three days rest for the first time all season, and if there is a seventh game, Dave Stieb, the ace of the staff, probably will be asked to pitch for the third time in nine days.
"We aren't planning any seventh game," said Toronto left fielder George Bell. "When we get back home, we'll show what kind of team we are. We'll end it Tuesday."
If they do not, Brett's throwaway line Saturday -- "the pressure's on them because now they're supposed to win" -- will have a ring of truth.
"We've never really had a miracle here," White said. "Maybe this will be the year."