We all knew it was bound to happen, and in Game 5 it finally did. Ned Yost mismanaged the Kansas City Royals and put them one loss away from being defeated in this year’s World Series.
In a pivotal Game 5, where the winner was going to be in prime position to win the Fall Classic, the Royals had the daunting task of defeating Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Bumgarner has been lights out and the Royals were going to have to play a near perfect game to take down the Giants’ ace. James Shields was taking the hill for Kansas City and needed to be much better than he was in Game 1.
Shields was much stronger, allowing only two earned runs in six innings. Shields wasn’t lights out, but he put his team in a position to win. This is where Yost needs to put his players in positions to succeed and he failed to do so.
Yost’s first mistake was in the top of the fifth. Bumgarner was dealing, but with one out in the inning, Omar Infante doubled. That brought up the light hitting Jarrod Dyson. At this point, Billy Butler needs to come into the game. Butler needs to pinch hit for Dyson and try to drive Infante home. Yost stood pat and Dyson struck out. Shields followed next and he also went down on strikes. In a game against Bumgarner, every run is precious and when you have a runner in scoring position, by no means can you allow Dyson and Shields to be your two hitters to try and drive that run home.
We jump ahead to the bottom of the seventh inning where the score remained 2-0. Shields’ night was done, and Kelvin Herrera entered the ballgame. In the top of the eighth, the eight spot was going to be up first in the order. Yost decided to double-switch to bring in Herrera and move him to the seven spot in the lineup and bring in Jayson Nix to play second base. His plan was to stretch Herrera to two innings, but at Herrera’s postseason workload, and the batting order the way it was, Yost needed to accept that Herrera was only going to be able to go an inning. Herrera’s first inning was fantastic and we headed to the eighth with Kansas City still down 2-0. The move here was to have Butler pinch hit for Dyson — Nori Aoki would then play right field — and then Josh Willingham pinch hit for Herrera. Yost brought in Butler to pinch hit, but unfortunately with the double switch, Nix had to hit. He’s been so bad offensively and is almost always an automatic out. Nix has yet to get a hit as a member of the Royals, and in a pressure situation, I hardly think that’s the time to think he’s going to come through. Not to mention, you also lose Infante’s bat, which has had several big hits for the Royals. And if the game develops differently, you will want him to hit late in the game.
As we reach the bottom of the eighth inning, Herrera attempted to pitch his second inning. He allowed the first two runners to reach base, and Wade Davis had to inherit runners, rather than start with a clean inning. Next thing you know, it’s 5-0 Giants.
To be fair to Yost, it seemed it didn’t matter what the Royals did. Bumgarner was dealing, pitching the first shutout in World Series play since Josh Beckett in 2003. Bumgarner lowered his ERA this postseason to 1.13 and more impressively lowered his career World Series ERA to 0.29. The Royals may not have been able to hit him regardless, but it’s the manager’s job to put his team in a position to succeed, and Yost failed to do so.
Yost is tired of being second-guessed, telling USA Today, “What surprises me is that I can’t believe all these people don’t put their resume for all these managerial openings. Why don’t they do that?” If Yost wants to be second-guessed less, perhaps he should do a better job of managing his ball club. The Royals have to win their next two games or their season will end just short of a World Series championship. If Yost continues to manage like he did tonight, it will be the Giants celebrating their third World Series title on the Royals’ home field.