This was the night to end it. The town was poised. The team was ready. One victory and a World Championship would be celebrated in the streets tonight.
But the St. Louis Cardinals never came close.
They were shut down by Kansas City Royals starter Danny Jackson. They played defense poorly. They left men on base in crucial situations. They lost, 6-1.
In short, they didn't play like a World Championship team -- at least not this night.
"We're still going to Kansas City feeling good," said left fielder Tito Landrum in the quiet Cardinals clubhouse. "We've already won two games there. But tonight, we didn't get it done."
From the beginning, they didn't get it done. In the second inning with the score 1-1, Landrum appeared to misjudge Jim Sundberg's sinking line drive. He dove for the ball, but it skipped off his glove and rolled away for a double.
A moment later, shortstop Buddy Biancalana lined a single to right. Sundberg, running all the way, was a step late getting to the plate because right fielder Cesar Cedeno came up with a perfect throw. But Sundberg, diving head first, eluded catcher Tom Nieto's diving tag and was called safe.
"I thought I had him," Nieto said. "I thought I tagged him on the side or the waist. It was a big play, but we still didn't score any runs or get any hits, so that wasn't the game."
It didn't help, though. Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog came out and argued vehemently. He said later that he thought Nieto tagged Sundberg. But he also said that Sundberg slid feet first, which means that Herzog was as confused as his players looked befuddled swinging at Jackson's slider.
"You can't hit 1.000," shortstop Ozzie Smith said. "The Royals have a good pitching staff, but what do you want us to do, quit?"
The Royals would love for the Cardinals to quit. The Cardinals are hitting less than .200 for the World Series but still are leading, 3-2. And, they will have John Tudor pitching if there is a seventh game.
"Don't ask me if there's going to be a seventh game," Tudor said. "How should I know if there's going to be a seventh game? I hope not. If there is, I'll go out and do the best I can. We'll just have to see."
Now, they will have to go back to Kansas City to see. They will have to win the World Series on the road. But, they have done everything they have been asked to do all season.
Herzog said it best when someone asked what the key was for the Cardinals now.
"Winning one more game," he said.