An Interview With: Ned Yost
Q. Can you just talk about the thought process in putting Danny, Yordano and Jeremy in the bullpen and how you might use them tonight?
NED YOST: Well, we're going to use Jeremy ‑‑ you've got to always cover yourself. You never know when a line drive is going to hit somebody in the elbow, when a line drive is going to hit somebody in the shin, so you've got to have coverage with length, and Jeremy Guthrie, that's going to be his spot. If something happens early, Jeremy is there to pick up the slack. If we get in the 12th inning and we've used all our pitchers, Jeremy is a guy that can take the game as far as it needs to go until we can win it.
With Duffy and Ventura, we've built our bullpen around power all year long, and as we all know, both of those kids have power arms. So we looked at both of those guys. If we need to mix and match an inning in the fifth or the sixth, we've got power arms that we can do it with.
Q. Can you talk about the thought process between using Nix instead of Lane Adams on the bench?
NED YOST: Well, we look at the spots, where are we going to make moves, and one of the places that we could conceivably make a move would be pinch‑hitting late for Moose, in a tight game where we need to pick up some offense, we'd use one of our pinch‑hitters, and then Nix would go in for defense for Moose. We kept Colon on because we like Colon's bat. If we get back around to Nix and the score is still tied and we're in a situation, we're going to have to pinch‑hit again, so we covered ourselves with two infielders there. Instead of a pinch‑runner we just felt it would be more beneficial to have the two infielders.
Q. What are the keys and the approach to Lester, specific to Lester?
NED YOST: Well, you look at his numbers, since he's been with Oakland, the most runs he's given up was three, so you're not going to go out and you're not going to ‑‑ if you think you're going to score six or seven runs and knock them out of the game early, that's probably not going to happen. So you have to be focused in your approach, you're going to have to try to drive the ball up the middle or the other way, you're going to have to ‑‑ if he makes a mistake, hopefully we can jump on it and put a ball in the gap, but you're going to have to try to manufacture runs, I think, one at a time and see if we can stack enough up and get us to the seventh and eighth inning when our power guys can come into the ballgame and hold them.
Q. It was mentioned about Nix, but Ibañez has had some success, too, against Lester. How long do you wait before you say I've got to get these bats that have had that success against Jon Lester into the lineup against him?
NED YOST: Well, it just depends. We'll just see where we're at. You look at our lineup, Escobar, Aoki, Cain, Hosmer have all had decent success. Billy and Gordy, their success rate is not quite as good, but Billy is hitting .320 against left‑handed pitching and Billy has been swinging the bat really, really well. Even Moose has got some pretty decent numbers against Lester.
I like where we're at. I think that we'll go out and give them a good game.
Q. With these two bullpens backing up these two starters, how important is that first run?
NED YOST: Well, it's all important for both starters. Both starters are the type ‑‑ Jon Lester has pitched in many, many postseason games. James Shields has earned the nickname Big Game James for a reason. Both of those guys, when they get the lead, it makes it more difficult to try to catch up.
It's important that you can go out and try to put a run or two on the board first for Shields and see if you can't tack on from there.
Q. When it comes to those big games, the two starting pitchers have the experience in that, but it's been covered that your team has not had a great success this year in front of huge crowds at Kauffman Stadium. Have you noticed them pressing in those situations?
NED YOST: Well, of course they have, a little bit. But here's the thing. You have to be in those situations in order for them to become routine, and the more situations that you're in, the easier it is to handle them. Now, the last two weeks of the season, we've been through that. It's starting to get more and more routine, and that's just experience, and every game that we play, every high leverage, high caliber game that we play just adds to that experience level for them, and they understand how to handle it.
You go in the locker room right now, which none of you guys can do ‑‑
Q. You seem really happy about that.
NED YOST: But it's a real loose locker room.
Q. Lester, this stat might be wrong, but I saw that he had not even attempted a pickoff all year, that he struggled holding runners, they put in Soto specifically to slow your running. Do you think it's important to try and get that running game going or are you picking spots?
NED YOST: Well, you're picking spots, but still, we've been an aggressive team all year long on the bases, and we don't look to change that today.
Q. Can you speak to the advantage of being here at home as far as playing the angles defensively out there in the outfield with a Gordon Cain and Aoki?
NED YOST: Well, our guys, it's not an advantage per se because when we go on the road, the outfielders every day, they go out and check the angles so they know the angles in every park. When you play 81 games here like we do, they've had every ball hit, so they understand exactly what the ball is going to do if it's hit down the line, if it's hit in the gap, they know how it's going to bounce, they know how it's going to bounce back. Oakland, that's what you do when you have these games. They've played here before. Their outfielders, part of their workout was to go check the walls, check the angles. You'll see outfielders throwing balls down the line, checking all the angles on everything that's hit. I don't think that'll be an issue.
Q. All those years in Atlanta with all the playoff games, is there anything you picked up from Bobby as far as dealing with playoffs and with the team and have you heard from Bobby the last couple days?
NED YOST: Yeah, I talked to Bobby two days ago and tried to call him today, but he must be busy. He must be playing golf around the farm. You know, you just play the game. You go out and trust your players, and like Dayton said before, they're all ready to go. You know, the difference in this game if we win or lose is they've got to perform, and we all believe that they're going to perform and play the game. You know, you just go at it from the first pitch on. You're watching, you're looking, you're trying to formulate your plan for the fifth, the sixth, the seventh inning, and just go play it and adjust accordingly to what happens.
Q. Compared to the beginning of Spring Training season opening day, how does this day compare to those?
NED YOST: Oh, it doesn't compare. This is what you live for. Opening day, you know, you're glad to get going. You've spent a whole winter preparing for opening day, but you know in the back of your mind, man, you've got 162 games to go. You know the grind that is set before you.
Now this is something that is special. In Atlanta, Spring Training and opening day was just, okay, let's play these games so we can get to the postseason, all right, let's play the games, let's get to the postseason, and it was almost like mundane because that's where the season started, in the postseason, and for us we've been fighting hard the last five years to get to this point. This is where it starts, right here. You have an opportunity, you know, to further your team into the playoffs, and it's a special time, and everybody knows it. These games are kind of crazy. I've never been through a one‑game elimination, but you still try to take it like it's a game, but you know what's back there if you don't win it. I mean, your focus has to be doing everything you can do to win this ballgame, and that's if it's ‑‑ sometimes a quick hook or we need to make a defensive replacement or we need to pinch‑hit, you do it, because there's no tomorrow.