So the Royals dropped Game 1 at home to the Cardinals, but Danny Jackson pitched very well and Kansas City played some sparkling defense. Still, they left too many runners on base and missed some opportunities.
But Game 2 is another day, right?
The Royals sent Charlie Leibrandt out to start Game 2 and he was mostly solid, throwing a first-pitch strike to 25 of the 34 batters he faced. That aggressive approach helped him get to six strikeouts on the day and over eight innings, he’d surrendered just two hits.
The Royals struck first for the second straight day, when Willie Wilson singled and scored on a George Brett double on a hit and run. Brett scored on a Frank White double to put the Royals up 2-0. In Game 1, Jim Sundberg led off the second inning with a walk and scored, so the Royals have struck first in both games, both on leadoff baserunners. In the bottom of the seventh with a 2-0 lead, the Royals had Buddy Biancalana on second and sent him home on a single from Lonnie Smith. Tito Landrum came up with the ball and took a shot at the plate, where Darrell Porter may or may not have missed the tag. It wasn’t clear on replay, but it looked like Biancalana got his leg over the plate before Porter’s glove got to him.
Leibrandt was stellar, tossing five different perfect innings, 11 of the first 12 batters, and as he started the ninth inning, he’d retired 13 in a row. With a 2-0 lead, Dick Howser kept him on the mound with a warm Dan Quisenberry in the bullpen ready for deployment. When Willie McGee led off with a double down the third base line, Howser stuck with Leibrandt, who got Ozzie Smith on a groundout and induced a fly ball to right from Tommy Herr for the second out.
Then things got ugly. With two outs and right-handed Jack Clark at the plate, Howser stuck with Leibrandt who threw three straight balls way outside against the first baseman. With a 3-0 count, Clark got the green light, singling past Brett at third. Brett was guarding the line and may have had a play if he was in a normal position at third base.
I’m not sure why, with a right-handed cleanup hitter at the plate and a runner in scoring position, Howser didn’t go to his closer, instead going with the tiring lefty Leibrandt. Tito Landrum, another right-handed batter, approached and still, no Quisenberry. Leibrandt got to 2-2, but Landrum poked a double down the right field line and Clark got held up at third.
That was the point where Howser finally went to Quisenberry. With two outs, he used his ace reliever to intentionally walk right-handed Cesar Cedeno to face switch-hitting Terry Pendleton who promptly doubled, scoring all three baserunners.
So let’s reconstruct that situation. Runners on second and third, two outs and the Royals bring in Quisenberry to face Cedeno. The Cardinals, to get the platoon advantage, pinch-hit a lefty like Andy Van Slyke. Well you can walk him anyway and have the same bases loaded scenario with Pendleton up. But at least put the Cardinals into the position to make the decision and the change instead of giving them a free baserunner. Maybe Pendleton still hits the double, maybe the Royals still lose.
But at least try. Geez.
Okay, so maybe if Leibrandt strikes out Landrum on the 2-2 pitch, we’re not talking about any of this. But I’d still bring in Quisenberry to start the inning or at the very least after Willie McGee reaches base. Or after the Jack Clark single.
On Saturday in Game 1, the Royals squandered opportunities to score. On Sunday in Game 2, the Royals squandered opportunities to bring in a former Fireman of the Year and shut the door on the Cardinals.
And now they’re down two games to zero and headed to Busch Stadium. Sure the Royals came back against Toronto, but you can only go uphill so many times before you run out of gas. I don’t know that they can do it again, and right now, I’m feeling bad about where this series is gonna end up.
The Royals will send Bret Saberhagen to stop the bleeding in Game 3 after an off day. He’ll face Joaquin Andujar of the Cardinals. Let’s hope that hand’s okay…
(Michael Engel was five years old during the 1985 World Series so he doesn’t recall details from the original viewing. Thankfully, the ’85 Series is on DVD nowadays. He’s trying to transfer his current Royals fan energy to recreate the atmosphere as if he was a 30 year old Royals blogger in 1985.