Yost has earned benefit of the doubt
TORONTO -- Ned Yost isn't about to fall into the trap a second time.
When he managed the Milwaukee Brewers, Yost cared about what people said and writers wrote. He wanted to please all the people all the time. It's not going to happen again. Now he gets it.
Now, Yost is the manager of the Kansas City Royals, a franchise that has improved its record in each season since he took over for Trey Hillman 35 games into the 2010 season and is one win away from its second straight American League pennant, which they'll play for on Friday night in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series (7 p.m. ET air time on FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet, 8 p.m. game time).
The Royals dropped Game 5, 7-1, on Wednesday at Rogers Centre.
Yost, however, does things a lot like his managerial mentor in Atlanta, Bobby Cox, did them -- by feel. Oh, he knows the numbers and the tendencies, but more than that, he knows his players, and he knows how to get them to respond in situations.
And Yost didn't hesitate to give Edinson Volquez that extra show of confidence in the sixth inning of Game 5, which Volquez earned with a six-inning, two-hit, no-run effort in Game 1. The critics might have cringed when Volquez walked Ben Revere to open the inning, hit Josh Donaldson and walked Jose Bautista in a 10-pitch at-bat to load the bases with nobody out. It wasn't, however, until Volquez walked Edwin Encarnacion to force in a run that Yost finally made his call to the bullpen.
"I thought he still had good stuff," said Yost. "Eddie's fastball had all kinds of life. We were looking for a double-play ball, quite frankly, with all the movement on it. We just didn't get it."
Not to mention the fact that ball four to Bautista was right on the border, and could very well have been called a strike. When Yost made the move to pull Chris Young with two outs in the fifth and a 4-2 lead in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, he knew the second-guessers were getting warmed up. He also knew that he had a rested bullpen and Young was making only his third start since July 28, having pitched only 27 2/3 innings in the previous 84 days. Kansas City's offense erupted for a 14-2 victory, which ended with Toronto using shortstop Cliff Pennington to get the final out in the top of the ninth.
The Royals didn't get a few close pitches that they felt could have been strikes in Game 5, nor could they even get an appeal on a checked swing by Bautista on that ball four, the screams from the bench drowned out by the sellout crowd at Rogers Centre.
Good move? Bad move?
Yes, Kelvin Herrera was loose in the 'pen and ready. No, he was not a guarantee, regardless of how dominating he has been this season.
Herrera did, after all, get victimized for a Troy Tulowitzki three-run double after initially striking out Chris Colabello and before striking out Dioner Navarro and Kevin Pillar.
What is known is that with Yost calling the shots, the Royals are one victory away from a second World Series appearance in as many years, having won an AL-best 95 games during the regular season, and they have enjoyed three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1987-89.
Yost may be questioned about game decisions, but there is, however, no question about the success he is enjoying as the man in charge of the Royals.