TORONTO — Kansas City left-hander Bud Black was leading Toronto, 3-1, in the sixth inning Wednesday. There were two outs with no one on base. Then he nicked George Bell on the right arm with a pitch.
Bell pointed menacingly at Black as he slowly walked toward first, shoved along by teammate Cliff Johnson. Black came off the mound to jaw at Bell, but the incident went no further.
Johnson then singled, Black wild-pitched, and Jesse Barfield hit a two-run single to tie the game, which was tied again in the 10th before the Blue Jays won it, 6-5.
Bell, who comes from the Dominican Republic, speaks limited English and sometimes doesn't speak to the media at all, said later:
"That was the second time this year he hit me, and that was enough. I don't think it's fair. That's why I point. I tell him, 'If you don't like me, tell me.' I ask him, 'Why don't you fight like a man?' "
Did the incident distract Black, leading to the tying runs?
"No," Black said. "Bell has been that way for a couple of years. He thinks any time a pitcher is throwing inside that he's throwing at him. If he doesn't want to get hit, he shouldn't dive into the ball.
"It's ridiculous to think I'm trying to hit him with two outs and a two-run lead in the sixth inning."
Kansas City Manager Dick Howser concurred.
"No way," Howser said. "Bell ought to start thinking about the game and not himself. If we're going to hit someone, we're not going to graze him, and we're certainly not going to hit him so that we can get Cliff Johnson up.
"I mean, I've heard other clubs talk. Bell has a seizure every time he's hit. One of these times, he's going to get as far as the clay (of the pitcher's mound) and find that no one has left the dugout to support him."
Add Black: The left-hander who beat the Angels in Game 3 of last week's showdown series was removed after seven innings, having allowed five hits and two earned runs. He had a runner at first with two out in the seventh when Tony Fernandez hit a line drive back to the mound.
Black absorbed the shot--and shock--with the right side of his rib cage, got his glove up to retain it, then threw to first for a double play. Then, in pain, he raced straight to the clubhouse.
"I thought it was worse than it was," Black said later. "I started to poke around once I got up here, and it wasn't that bad."
Howser, however, brought on Dan Quisenberry to pitch the eighth, saying that two walks and two pitching changes in a long top of the eighth prompted Black's removal.
"I definitely didn't take myself out," Black said. "I could have gone on. It was Dick's decision."
Frustrated by his 48-pitch, 17-batter stint as Kansas City's starter and loser in Tuesday night's American League playoff opener, Charlie Leibrandt had said, "I'd like to come right back and start again tomorrow."
That would have been a little quick, but the Royals will bring Leibrandt back a day earlier than originally planned. He will start Saturday night's Game 4 on three days' rest, pushing Danny Jackson back to Game 5.
The Royals' Bret Saberhagen (20-6) will pitch Game 3 in Kansas City Friday night, opposing Doyle Alexander (17-10).
Manager Dick Howser said he decided to bring Leibrandt back a day early because he threw fewer than 50 pitches Tuesday night, because it gives the Royals one more start by a left-hander and because Leibrandt's consistency during the regular season, when he was 17-9, would have made him the ace of most staffs.
Dave Stieb, who pitched eight shutout innings as Tuesday night's winner, is also scheduled to start on three' days rest in Game 4, but Toronto Manager Bobby Cox reacted to Wednesday's victory by saying that Stieb may be held back until Game 5.
"It depends on whether we win Friday," he said. "If we're leading (the series), 3-0, we may give Dave four days and start Jim Clancy in the fourth game."
The Blue Jays drew 16 crowds in excess of 40,000 en route to a regular-season attendance total of more than 2.4 million.
Why only 39,115 and 34,029 for the first two games of the playoffs?
Public relations director Howard Starkman cited three factors:
--The left-field bleacher seats, some of which are as far from the plate as Saskatchewan, are now priced at $19, contrasted with $4 and $2 during the regular season.
--A large number of box seats were returned at the last minute by the other major league clubs, which elected to pass on the now seven-game playoff in favor of sending their staffs to the World Series. "There are very few baseball people here," Starkman said.
--The 8:35 p.m. start of Tuesday night's game and the 3:05 p.m. start Wednesday cut down on the number of people attending from outside the immediate Toronto area.