This Date In Royals History – October 15, 1985
Postseason games that do not decide a series are often forgotten and taken for granted once the ultimate outcome is finally determined. The rare exception is when a momentum switch can be distilled down to a single key play or spectacular performance like George Brett’s in Game 3 of the 1985 ALCS. Otherwise they fade to the background like 1985 ALCS Game 6 in Toronto, but that game was really a brilliant chess move by Royals Manager Dick Howser.
It’s Tuesday, October 15, 1985 and the Royals are trying to save off a second match point- this time they had to get it done on the road. Dick Howser’s postseason rotation would have had Buddy Black going to the mound, but Black had warmed-up in the bullpen three times that Sunday afternoon behind Danny Jackson and might not have been full strength (though he never entered the game as Jackson went all nine innings). To start Black or not to start Black was the question…
The 1985 Blue Jays were more susceptible to left handed pitching, but Howser thought it would be even more important to have a lefty in the bullpen – just in case. So as insurance he put Buddy back in the pen for Game 6 and gave the starting assignment to Mark Gubicza. Mark had not started a game since the waning days of the regular season – a key 4-2 win vs Oakland the night before the Royals clinched the AL West (he did pitch three scoreless relief innings in the Royals 6-1 ALCS Game 1 loss). The Kansas City Star Sports headline that day summed it up this way – ‘Flickering pennant hopes ride on Gubicza’
Well the candle didn’t go out - Gubicza did exactly what Howser needed and wanted him to do. The future Royals Hall of Famer giving up three runs in five and a third innings. When he got into a bit of trouble in the sixth Howser called on Buddy Black – but by that time Kansas City had a 5-3 lead. Black shut-out the Jays the rest of the way with Dan Quisenberry coming in to get the game’s final out with the tying runs on-base. Howser’s plan had worked like a charm and it was on to match point #3.
Just A Bit More: When the Royals faced the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series they saw a couple of familiar faces including St. Louis catcher Darrell Porter. Porter left Kansas City as a free-agent following the Royals 1980 American League Championship to sign with the Redbirds. As compensation they received the Cards second round pick in the 1981 June Draft which Kansas City used to select Penn Charter HS (Philadelphia, PA) pitcher Mark Gubicza.
Though Gubicza would not get a chance to take the mound against St. Louis in the World Series don’t let anyone say he didn’t play a part in the championship. You only have to look at ALCS Game 6 for proof.
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)