Q. Ned, the sixth inning seems to be so pivotal in all these games. You've scored seven runs in the sixth inning, on the other side. That's where you're making a lot of pitching decisions. How pivotal do you feel like that particular inning is?
NED YOST: I feel it's one of the most important innings of the game for us. It's been like that for a while. We feel like we have 7, 8, and 9 covered. Sometimes we've got to mix and match the 6th. The majority of the time this summer our starters did a really, really good job of getting us through six innings.
We've been a little more quicker to go to the pen here in the postseason, but it's an extremely pivotal inning.
Q. Why do you think it is that starters is it because of the pressure of the World Series that maybe you guys are quicker to pull them out?
NED YOST: No, I don't think they're pressured. We get into a situation where, for me, it's generally the third time around the order, and I've got arms, fresh arms in the 6th inning. During the season, I wouldn't really worry about it too much, especially when a guy like Guthrie who had gone through five innings last night, I mean, was boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, sharp as a tack ends up giving a little groundball single and then a double. I could have let him stay in that game, and had confidence that he was going to probably get through it. But I didn't want to take any chances. So, you know, we brought Kelvin Herrera in in that spot.
But a lot of times, I'm not really giving them an opportunity to work through that sixth inning, and part of that is my fault, too. But with the arms that we have down there, we're just going to them straight in the 6th inning.
I would much rather prefer do it in the 7th inning, but this is me. I just don't want to take any chances in the 6th inning, if I don't have to.
Q. The natural tendency of relief pitchers is to always say they're fine, they're available no matter what, especially this time of year. How do you guys tell that they actually are okay to go two, three days in a row?
NED YOST: Well, because we've developed a very strong line of communication. You're right. The natural tendency is to tell me that they're okay, so I don't ask them. Dave Eiland's the one that walks around and checks them, because they're really straight with Dave. They'll tell Dave the truth.
So I avoid asking them how they feel. Dave's the one that will go on and check each and every single one of them just exactly how they're feeling.
Bobby Cox gave me great advice when all this started, because I felt like I was really pounding my relievers, pounding them, pounding them. I asked Bobby, "When you went through all this, did you ever feel like you were pounding your relievers, especially your really good ones?" And he goes, "yeah." I said, "How did you do it? How did you manage it?" He said, "Ned, the first thing that you do is you trust your player. If he tells you he's okay, he's okay."
So there is a lot of trust that's in there. Even though we think hey, maybe he needs a break. If he says he's okay, we're going to trust him.
Q. Talking about the 6th inning, Brandon Finnegan has kind of been a nice tool to use. You brought him in yesterday, and he seems very comfortable being a bridge sometimes. Do you see I mean, next year you might have different plans for him, but do you see him as an important role right now to do that?
NED YOST: Absolutely. I see Finnegan and Frasor as our bridge guys. We knew last night you know, the mindset last night was we were going to go with Kelvin in any trouble from the 6th inning on. If we got in trouble in the 6th, we were going to bring Kelvin in, and mix and match the 7th. Kelvin got us through the 6th. He came in.
My mindset really coming in was that we were going to go with Finnegan to start the 7th inning, but you have that big Hunter Pence up there, and he's a threat. Kel came in and said he felt good. I said, okay, I'd rather match up Kelvin with Hunter Pence and see what happens. Ended up walking him.
The pivotal at bat, I think for Kelvin in that 7th inning was Belt. Took him to 3 2. If he walks Belt there, I've got to bring in Finnegan. They're going to pinch hit Perez. They're going to bunt. Now all of a sudden you're looking at a 2nd and 3rd situation in the 7th inning. But Kelvin did a great job getting a strikeout on Belt, and that kind of opened up some of our options, and made it easier for us to navigate through that 7th inning.
Q. After a really good stretch since you left Baltimore, it's been a little bit more of a struggle to score get runs across, but you had a couple of your lefties who had some O fers and get hits. Where do you think your offense stands right now? How do you feel?
NED YOST: I feel really good with my offense. The whole point is, you score enough runs to win baseball games and that's the bottom line. I don't care if you're 0 for 15 like Gordy was or whatever he was, he still has the opportunity with one swing to change the game, and he did that yesterday.
So would I like to go out and score ten runs tonight? Yeah. Do I think that's going to happen? No. We'll scratch and claw and score as many as we need to to win a baseball game. If we can do that, I think my offense is doing great.
Q. I was wondering if you thought the basepaths looked a little damp last night? And with a team like yours that runs a lot, when you play on the road, do you often see little slippery conditions on the basepaths?
NED YOST: In some places. And yes, I thought it was a little extra wet around first. When Moose or somebody got on, it might have been Moose, and he dove back into first base and he came up extremely muddy, I thought that it was a little damper than normal, yeah.
Q. Herrera's status for tonight? And also how important is it Davis and Holland not only dominating so much, but also being so efficient and also being more available for the two games after last night's?
NED YOST: That's very important for them to be efficient. Kelvin came in, first thing he did was seek out Dave Eiland and tell him he feels really good today. So our response to that was, "Well, let's go out, play catch, and let's see how you feel, and then we can make a decision from that point." But he felt better than I expected him to.
Q. We have James coming in here later. What gives you the confidence to think he can shake out of the doldrums he's been in the last couple starts?
NED YOST: I've seen him pitch for 65 starts or so. I know what type of pitcher he is, one. And I've got confidence in everybody on my staff.
We talked about Alex Gordon going 0 for 15. Did I lose confidence in Alex because he was 0 for 15? Absolutely not. Stepped up and got a big hit for us. It's the same thing with James Shields. I know his intensity. I know his work ethic. I know his competitiveness. I know that as much as a lot of you guys think that these guys are light's out perfect every time they go out there, they're not. They're human beings. They make adjustments and they have good games and they have bad games.
But I know tomorrow when he steps on that mound, he's going to be ready both physically and mentally to compete and give us his best effort, and that's all I can ask.
Q. Did that Red Sox series in September at home have any result in terms of you figuring out your bullpen a little more clear or anything like that? Did anything change after that series?
NED YOST: No, the only thing I remember about the Red Sox series was I was just really pissed off. So, I don't remember anything much about it after that.
Q. On the wet basepaths, does that just come under the category of gamesmanship or what?
NED YOST: I don't know. Maybe the groundskeeper just was looking at all the Royals fans up in the corner there and just forgot (laughter). I don't know (laughing).