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Oct 25

Royals Defense, Bullpen Do Things Again

It takes a cruel man to fill out a lineup card with the likes of Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson, and Lorenzo Cain positioned in the expansive AT&T Park outfield. Does Nori Aoki make this catch in the second, possibly saving a run, or this sliding grab in the first off of Buster Posey’s bat? Who cares? Ned Yost doesn’t. Like Willie Keeler said, “hit ‘em where they ain’t,” but good luck finding a place where a Royal won’t relocate.

That’s not to say the Giants were bereft of great plays. Travis Ishikawa made a great sliding play that saved one run, likely more, and Pablo Sandoval made the prettiest play of all on a chopper that he made look much easier than it actually was. Doesn’t it seem like in every one of these games highlight worthy plays are made? When this Hunter Pence grab in the fourth is just another play, we’re watching something special.

Yost’s decision to sit Aoki turned out not to matter all that much in the end, but Aoki has had some success against Giants’ starter Tim Hudson, going 2-for-8 lifetime with three walks, giving him a healthy .250/.455/.375 line in an extremely small sample size. Dyson had never faced Hudson before Friday, but he’s a career .269/.332/.358 against righties and hit .274/.326/.337 with his lone home run this season. Well, Dyson is now 0-for-2 vs Hudson with the possibility of seeing him again if this series goes seven.

Yost’s other decision to relieve Jeremy Guthrie with Kelvin Herrera raised some eyebrows, especially with lefties Gregor Blanco and Joe Panik (how about this Panik slide and throw, though) up next and Sandoval being a much better hitter from the left side. At the time, I thought it curious he didn’t bring in Brandon Finnegan, but Yost is essentially on auto-pilot with the likes of Herrera, Davis, and Holland that it’s hard to find fault. Herrera wasn’t sharp, walked Blanco, and had to face the irrationally scary Panik.1 After Blanco, Yost couldn’t really burn through Blanco, not against a rookie hitting .236 in the playoffs, but I’m a little surprised he didn’t bring in Finnegan to face Sandoval and force him to bat right-handed. Bad things happen to teams when they give Sandoval an opportunity to tie up the game from the left side:

Yost trusted the guy with the heater, brought in Finnegan in the seventh anyway (becoming the first player to appear in both the College World Series and the Major League World Series in the same year), and then went chalk in the last two innings. Should Yost have just brought Herrera in to face Michael Morse? Seeing that he was a few feet from making it 3-2 and with this hit still fresh in my memory, I say yes. If you’re going to pull Guthrie after the double, or after more trouble, why not just do it before? He’d only given up three hits up until that time, but if we’ve learned anything in this postseason, do not allow anyone on either team the opportunity for heroics. Just follow that rule.

The Royals won. All is right in their world. Never forget this woman and this man’s promise:

royals_puppySome things are bigger than managerial decisions. We’re dealing with the workings of the universe.

  1. I keep waiting for his Mark Lemke moment. It’s going to happen. He’s batting .236/.263/.364 in the playoffs, but he terrified me in the NLDS vs the Nationals, and he still worries me. You wait. He’s going to be key to a Giants win here soon, probably on some crazy diving play by Cain where it glances off his glove and Panik gets and inside the park homerun.

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