KANSAS CITY -- For his final game as Royals manager on Sunday, Ned Yost took out the lineup card to the umpires instead of third base-coach Mike Jirschele. And as expected, Yost received a huge ovation from the fans at Kauffman Stadium.
And then it was back to business for Yost as he wrapped up his career in Kansas City. His team beat the Twins, 5-4, on Brett Phillips’ walk-off sacrifice fly in the ninth. The Royals finished the 2019 season with a 59-103 record. Last year, they went 58-104.
What’s left are memories for Yost, who guided the Royals to consecutive pennants in 2014 and ‘15 and a World Series championship in ‘15. He will spend the next week packing up mementos from his manager’s office and his condo in Kansas City. Then he and his wife, Deborah, will head back to their farm in Georgia and “start the rest of our lives together,” as Yost said.
“It’s just time,” Yost said repeatedly during the week after announcing his retirement on Monday.
Yost ends his career as the longest-tenured manager in the American League and the winningest manager in Royals history with 746 wins.
Sunday’s game also signaled the end of another era: David Glass witnessed his final game as owner after running the franchise for 20 years. Glass is selling the team to Kansas City businessman John Sherman.
“We’ve gone through a lot of good times together,” Yost said of Glass.
But Yost has said his goodbyes all week, and after the game, he seemed to grow weary of the process.
“It’s hard for me to say goodbye,” Yost said. “I’d just as soon get it over with. I was sitting there in the middle of the game, and there’s not one part of me that wants to continue doing this. I’ve done my part. I’m healthy. I want to go spend time with my family. We’re both healthy and in great shape, and we want to go do things together.”
The Royals played hard in Yost’s final game, typical of his tenure. Yost got his first Salvy Splash after the game.
With runners on first and third and no outs in the ninth, Phillips smoked a line drive out to right field that scored Humberto Arteaga. It was a memory Phillips isn’t likely to forget -- winning Yost’s final game.
“It wasn't about me there,” Phillips said. “Obviously, I've got to credit Artie and [Nick] Dini getting on base, great ABs. It's been an emotional weekend, obviously, with Yostie leaving and retiring. That was for him, for Yostie. His last game, something he'll remember, hopefully, and to go out on a win. I'm blessed to be able to have that opportunity, to be in that position to help the team win there and have Yostie go out with a win."
Yost had a premonition that Phillips would hit the game-winner.
“It was funny,” Phillips said. “I come in; in the ninth, I'm third up. So I'm going to the bathroom. He's like, 'Let's go! Hurry up! You're dipping into my retirement. Hurry up! Get the game-winning hit and let's get out of here.' You couldn't have written it any better. It's crazy how that happened and how it played out. Like I said, it was only right that that's the way it ended."
Right-hander Jorge López, who figures to have a shot at the rotation in 2020, grinded through five innings, giving up six hits and four runs.
The Royals finished the season with the AL home run leader, the MLB hits leader in Whit Merrifield (206), and in a tie for the league lead in triples leaders -- Merrifield, Hunter Dozier and Adalberto Mondesi had 10 apiece, as did Arizona’s Eduardo Escobar. Mondesi also finished second in MLB in stolen bases with 43; Seattle’s Mallex Smith had 46.
Yost was especially proud of those achievements.
“Whit being able to do what he’s [been] doing is mind-blowing,” Yost said. “I didn’t see this coming with Whit. Now he’s one of the best players in all of baseball. Soler, Dozier, you can just go on and on.”
But Yost said he won’t miss the daily competitive nature of managing and making decisions in the dugout.
“I've had it with that,” Yost said. “I’ve done this my whole life. I was thinking yesterday about [being in the dugout], and every decision that you have to make, I’ve made them all. Some have worked and some haven’t. I don’t have to do that anymore. I don’t need that anymore. I just don’t.
“I woke up one day this summer and I was remembering what it was like in ‘14 and ‘15, and you’d wake up at 5 in the morning and you were just so charged. You’re so in the middle of that. … But we’re too far away from that right now to feel that again. I’m looking in my mind that it will be three or four years before we can contend for a championship. I don’t have the time to wait that long.
“I’m just looking forward to sleeping in. And then doing whatever the heck we feel like doing.”