KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A pivotal question concerning the 82nd World Series was how the Kansas City Royals would handle the speed of the St. Louis Cardinals.
But in Game 1 of this I-70 Series, it was the Royals who were caught with their motor running.
The Royals' zeal on the bases helped destroy three early threats, and they then generated only one more in a 3-1 loss Saturday night.
A crowd of 41,650 saw St. Louis, by contrast, capitalize on each of its opportunities, scoring single runs in the third, fourth and ninth innings.
Cesar Cedeno doubled in a run that broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth.
Jack Clark, coming off his dramatic home run in Game 6 of the playoff with the Dodgers, supplied a cushion in the ninth with an RBI double on which left fielder Lonnie Smith made no effort beyond turning to watch the seemingly catchable drive bounce on the warning track.
Dan Quisenberry permitted that final run after starter Danny Jackson allowed only four hits and struck out seven in a seven-inning stint that was undeserving of the loss.
John Tudor, who was 2-5 with a 6.22 earned-run average against Kansas City in his five years with the Boston Red Sox, showed the Royals a new motion and new repertory in gaining the win, his second in three postseason decisions. Tudor allowed seven hits but only the one run in 6 innings.
Todd Worrell, the Christian education graduate of Biola College, disengaged a bases-loaded situation in the seventh and yielded only one hit in the last 2 innings. The hard-throwing and soft-spoken rookie has permitted just one run and five hits in 8 innings of five postseason appearances.
St. Louis, a 2-1 Series favorite, has now won four straight games without left fielder Vince Coleman, the catalytic leadoff man who is still sidelined by a bruised left leg.
This one turned on the futile attempts of the Royals to use their legs.
They blew a suicide squeeze play in the second, had a runner nailed on a premature steal attempt in the third, then had Jim Sundberg thrown out at home while trying to score from third base on a fourth-inning pop-up as third baseman Terry Pendleton made a racing, back-to-the-plate catch in foul territory down the third-base line. The catch was similar to the one Pendleton made on Greg Brock in Game 3 of the Dodger playoff, but this time, Pendleton wheeled and delivered a strike to catcher Darrell Porter, easily nailing Sundberg.
Of the Royal aggressiveness, left fielder Darryl Motley said:
"We know the Cardinals are going to play that way. If we don't do some of the same things, they'll run us off the field. I'm sure Dick has been thinking along those lines."
Dick Howser manages a team that hit .225 in the playoff with Toronto. The Royals were last in the American League in runs scored and next to last in team batting average. Now, in a World Series without the designated hitter, they are also facing the Cardinals without one of their most dependable bats--designated hitter Hal McRae.
"If you have trouble scoring runs," Howser said, "you can't sit back and wait for things to happen. We're not trying to run ourselves out of the game. In my mind, we made two good percentage plays (the squeeze and the Sundberg scoring try).
"I'd call it aggressive. I definitely wouldn't call it overaggressive. These are the things we have to do to win. I mean, the strategy didn't go wrong, the execution did."
It happened first in the second inning, when Sundberg walked and scored on consecutive singles by Motley and Steve Balboni. The Royals then had runners at first and third with one out.
Shortstop Buddy Biancalana, the David Letterman whipping boy who was 4 for 18 in the AL playoffs after hitting .188 in the regular season, took the count to 2 and 1, then missed the bunt attempt with Motley coming from third. That left Motley dead in a rundown.
"It was a running fastball out of the strike zone," Biancalana said. "I don't know if I should have been able to bunt it or not. I did my best to get my bat on it but couldn't reach it.
"The feeling is one of total frustration. You hope the runner at third missed the sign. Then you look up and see him in no-man's land and hope the catcher throws the ball away."
Said Motley: "We haven't tried that play too many times this year. I think it was a good call under the circumstances. The hitter controls the runner's destiny, but you can't blame anyone. It's part of the game. If no one ever messed up, it wouldn't be worth watching."
In the third inning, it was Smith who messed up. He singled to open the inning, then broke early on a steal attempt and was picked off by Tudor. The Royals got a second hit in the inning--a two-out single by George Brett, but that, too, was wasted.
Then, in the fourth, Sundberg doubled, reached third on Motley's deep fly to right and was thrown out trying to score on Balboni's pop-up, caught in Pendleton's seemingly patented fashion about 100 feet down the line.