Now, the pressure really is on the Toronto Blue Jays.
Tonight, they had their second chance to clinch their first American League pennant. They had true Toronto weather, a blustery, icy evening in Exhibition Stadium. They had 37,557 fans primed for a celebration.
And yet, they lost. They lost to people named Mark Gubicza and Buddy Biancalana and Bud Black. They lost, 5-3, to the Kansas City Royals and the American League Championship Series, which the Blue Jays once led, three games to one, now is tied and headed for a decisive seventh game.
And so Wednesday night (WRC-TV-4, 8:15 p.m.), the Blue Jays will put the baseball into the hands of their ace, Dave Stieb, and say, "Save us." Save us from Royals ace Bret Saberhagen, who will start for Kansas City, and save us from the ignominy of botching a 3-1 lead in the first best-of-seven league championship series ever held.
"We aren't the most talented team, we may not have the best players, but when we have to win, we seem to find a way to win," said Dan Quisenberry, who came in tonight to get the last out with the tying runs on base. "Dave Stieb has given us nothing in this series, but I wouldn't be shocked if we won. We know about miracles."
If they do win, they will send this ready-to-celebrate city into a state of shock. The fans came this evening in a festive mood, ready for a victory party. They oohed and aahed in the fourth inning when a stripper leaped from the Blue Jays dugout barefoot and was stopped by security guards as she prepared to ply her trade.
They screamed every time the Blue Jays put a runner on base. But it was all to no avail. "We're a little frustrated," Toronto Manager Bobby Cox said. "We just have to hope we get the big hits tomorrow."
Kansas City got some of its big hits tonight from those whom they expect them from: Hal McRae drove in the first two runs with a first-inning single and a fourth-inning double. George Brett -- who else? -- put the Royals in front, 3-2, with a fifth-inning homer off Toronto starter Doyle Alexander, who has allowed Brett three homers and a double in this series.
But the deciding hit of this game came from a man even less likely to be a hitting hero than Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith was on Monday. Roland Americo (Buddy) Biancalana Jr., he of the .188 batting average, the one home run and six RBI during the regular season.
Biancalana has become a cult figure in baseball recently because of David Letterman's recent spoof on NBC in which he has chronicled Biancalana's "chase" of Pete Rose's hitting record. Biancalana, who is 25, has 56 career hits. Before the game tonight, Royals Manager Dick Howser joked that Smith's home run might be an omen, that Biancalana might be ready to break loose.
They laughed then. Nobody is laughing now.
Biancalana singled in the second.
But it was in the sixth that Biancalana turned guffaws into gasps. Both starting pitchers, Gubicza and Alexander, had struggled early. Each had given up single runs in the first and third and pitched out of further trouble.
Brett's homer in the fifth had made it 3-2. "Doyle threw a good changeup away from the plate," Cox said. "He went out and got it and it got up into the wind and went out."
"I didn't think it was going out when I hit," said Brett, who broke the major league record he shared with Steve Garvey by hitting his ninth career championship series homer. "But wind blown, not wind blown, who (cares). It was a home run. That's all that matters."
It mattered because it meant the Royals were ahead when they batted in the sixth. Otherwise, Howser might have pinch hit for Biancalana. He came up with Jim Sundberg on second and one out. On a 1-0 pitch, he crushed Alexander's fast ball into the right-center field alley.
The ball landed one hop short of the warning track. Sundberg scored easily, and when rightfielder Jesse Barfield dropped the ball while picking it up, Biancalana went to third.
That was all for Alexander. "I knew he was going to make me hit my way on with Lonnie Smith coming up next," Biancalana said. "I went up on the bat handle and I just got a pitch I could hit."
Biancalana's hit made it 4-2. Smith followed with a double down the right field line, scoring Biancalana to make it 5-2.
That was the last hit the Royals would get as Dennis Lamp overpowered them the rest of the way, even striking out Brett in the eighth.
So, it was left up to the Royals' pitching. That is the way Howser likes it. "People asked me about starting Gubicza," he said. "But that gave me the luxury of Black in the bullpen. I thought Mark would give us a good game tonight."
Gubicza was good enough. He had runners on first and third in the first and got Rance Mulliniks to hit into a double play. He had first and third in the third and again escaped with only one run. Each time that happened, Black was warming up. When Gubicza put men on first and second with one out in the sixth, Howser brought in Black.
"I was just glad to go as far as I did," Gubicza said. "I knew in that situation, Blackie was coming in."
Black came in because Al Oliver, the left-handed designated hitter who has two game-winning hits in the series, was coming up. Howser wanted him gone. Cliff Johnson pinch-hit for Oliver.
Johnson singled in a run. When Black threw a wild pitch, Johnson went to second and Willie Upshaw to third. There was one out. George Bell, a tough right-handed hitter was up. Ernie Whitt, a slow-footed lefty, was next.
Would Howser walk Bell?
"No way," he said. "I don't walk the winning run on base. I just don't like doing that."
Howser's strategy paid off. Bell popped to first and Whitt popped to catcher Sundberg. As Sundberg bounced off the backstop with the ball in his glove, Whitt swiped at the dirt in frustration.
"We're just leaving men on," he said later. "That's not us. We have to get it together in the last game or we're in trouble."
The Blue Jays had more chances. In the seventh, Brett's error put Barfield on but Tony Fernandez grounded into a double play. Black walked Damaso Garcia and Lloyd Moseby but got Garth Iorg to tap back to him.
In the eighth, Johnson singled again, but Black got Cecil Fielder to pop to right and struck out Whitt. Finally, in the ninth, Fernandez reached when Black was slow getting off the mound on a grounder wide of first, and with two down, Moseby singled.
"The way Buddy was going, I didn't think I'd get in," he said. "I was glad to get the chance. But the last thing I expected was a strikeout. I don't strike people out."
But tonight, Quisenberry struck Iorg out, ending the game. And Toronto's fans went home in a daze. And there will be a Game 7.
And it was left to Brett, who insisted when the Royals were down, three games to one, that the pressure was on the Blue Jays and not his team, to insist that the Royals' comeback was not necessarily a conquest.
"Advantage like hell," he said. "Is it an advantage facing Dave Stieb? You call that an advantage? The crowd doesn't matter, momentum doesn't matter. One of us will win and go to the World Series, the other will go home. In a game like this, no one has the advantage. We just play."
And the pressure? McRae, wearing a T-shirt that read, "We're not great, We jus' play great," answered that one. "Now," he said with a grin, "The pressure is on everyone."