It's been different than I expected. I thought it would be tight games like the other two playoff series that we had, but so far they haven't. It will be interesting to see how it plays out tonight.
Q. Salvador Perez is making his 158th start this season; that is the most by a Major League catcher ever. What does his presence in the lineup mean, not only for your pitching staff but also offensively?
NED YOST: It means a lot. He's a real threat offensively. But for our pitching staff, that's where his vast importance comes. Especially with young pitchers like Ventura and guys like Guthrie. Guys like Shields, he's worked really hard to develop a relationship with these guys, and his main focus is to get them through the game any way that he can. And his attitude and his competitiveness, I guess, is the right word for it is a little bit contagious. You know, our guys are really competitive, but he is a guy that never gets down, ever. He's always got a smile on his face. He's always a guy that stays after it and is encouraging no matter what. He can be 0‑for‑20, and when he leaves that dugout, he's as happy and encouraging as anybody I've ever seen.
But he's just a really good leader back there. The pitching staff all has a great deal of confidence not only in his defensive ability, but his ability to call the game, because they know that he's done his homework. They'll meet together every day. Before the last couple years, Sal would sit and listen and listen. Now when they get in these meetings, Sal kind of takes the reins and discusses it.
So he's come a long way. His focus is to be the best catcher that he can be for his team.
Q. How has the Wild Card, not just for you guys, but for everyone, changed the mindset throughout the season? And would you say since you first came up as a player, that's one of the biggest innovations in the game?
NED YOST: I think it has. It makes it so much more interesting. The first time we went to the World Series in Milwaukee, we ended up winning the division on the last day, and then we went straight into the ALCS, which was a five‑game series there, and straight to the World Series.
It gives other teams hope. Even going down to the last day we were fighting to try to win the division. We knew that we had home‑field advantage in the Wild Card, which was a goal that we wanted to get, but we didn't win the division. But we all sat back and have watched teams that have gotten in on the Wild Card go to the World Series and be successful in the World Series. So that gave us hope.
What we needed to do was just get past that one‑game elimination, and then get into a regular five‑game playoff scenario where we could hopefully advance, and we've done that quite nicely.
Q. Ned, can you tell us a little bit about what this month has meant to the Royals franchise. Win or lose tonight, when you're out in the community or here in the ballpark, what is the image now of the Royals both locally and what you see perceived around the game?
NED YOST: The difference is night and day. It's just been this month. They really started to believe, I think, a little bit in September. But even in September, I could go anywhere in this town and maybe get recognized by about one out of 30 people. I can't go anywhere in this town now without being recognized by everybody, which is kind of strange and different for me.
Even when we were in San Francisco, I guess being on TV every night for a month it's been different because I was shocked on how many people would stop me on the street walking down to get a cup of coffee to take pictures.
But our fans, it's been so long. They're just so excited that we're here. They've waited a long, long time for this opportunity and to enjoy this type of playoff atmosphere with this organization, and they're taking full advantage of it.
Q. Tonight is such a different kind of game. How many different scenarios ‑‑
NED YOST: I've never done anything like this. This is totally different than anything I've ever done. We just sat there tonight going over the pitching and going over the scenarios. The good thing about it is we're really set up good for tonight, but the Giants are, too, so that makes it kind of fun. But we've got Wade that we can use multiple innings, Herrera can go multiple innings, Holly can go multiple innings, Guthrie is coming off a couple of good starts. We've got Finnegan that can go multiple innings, and then we've got Duffy, and we've got Shields down in the pen, if we get into extra innings. We've still got quality down there to take us deep into the game.
We feel like we hopefully have all the scenarios covered. Hooks are going to be quick on a night like tonight when you've got that much quality pitching. But you just mix and match it and see the flow of the game and just make your decisions from that.
Q. That was, I guess, my question is the challenge for you with Jeremy, who has maybe been your best starter over these past six weeks. How do you balance giving him any sort of leash when you have nine, ten innings of good bullpen behind it?
NED YOST: A lot of it depends on how he's throwing, you know? And you can tell. You can tell if he's out there grinding or if he's in total control. You get into the 4th, if he can get us through four, we're going to be in great shape. If he can get us through five, that's even going to be better.
But Dave knows him inside and out. And we'll know if he's struggling a little bit. There's a lot of times over the course of the season where a guy will come in and we'll look at each other, and do you think we can push him through another one? That's not going to happen tonight. If we've got to think, hey, do you think we can push him to another one, that won't happen. We're not pushing anybody through another one tonight. But if he's in control and he's commanding his pitches, you know, you just ride with it as far as you can. When you start sniffing something, you got to make a move.
Q. How did you sleep last night?
NED YOST: I slept pretty good. Mostly on my right side, but pretty good.
Q. Are you kicking around all this stuff in your head all night or no?
NED YOST: No, not really. Not really. I got up at like 6:30 and started kicking it around. No, I slept good. Thank you for asking.
Q. You said after last night's game that you never had such a strong feeling as you did yesterday going into Game 6 that you guys are going to win. How are you feeling now about Game 7?
NED YOST: Exactly the same. I've felt all along, and this is just my feeling, all right. When this series started I had a lot of confidence in our guys because they've got a lot of confidence in themselves. I mean, if we lose tonight, it's not going to be because we're tight. Our guys are really, really loose. But when we went up 2‑1, I thought Game 4 was important. We ended up losing Game 4, and my mindset was we're going to probably struggle in Game 5. With Bumgarner as tough as he is, you're going to go out and you're going to compete, but you know what kind of animal he is. My mind was we're going to probably struggle in Game 5, but we're going to win Game 6, and whoever wins Game 6 is going to win the World Series. I was really convicted of that.
If the Giants would have won last night, well, my theory would have been right, you know? But we've got to wait till tonight to see if it's right now.
I've got a very, very good feeling about my team.
Q. Is there a particular approach that you guys are going to take with Bumgarner knowing that maybe he's got a limited number of bullets to fire?
NED YOST: The approach isn't with Bumgarner. It's with Hudson. If we can get the lead off Hudson, it doesn't matter if Bumgarner comes in. Then we hold the lead. If we're behind when Bumgarner comes in, then we're going to have to battle.
Bumgarner's a great starting pitcher. We'll see what kind of reliever he is.
Q. Before the postseason started, Glen Perkins of the Twins Tweeted a "You're welcome for the home‑field advantage for the AL, you saved the All‑Star Game." What does 6 and 7 mean knowing that you basically have the last moves and the last at‑bats?
NED YOST: Well, it means a lot. I mean, it means a lot. That means a lot. But for me, just as much as having our home fans here and having our crowd here behind us. To have that energy cheering for you instead of against you, our guys feed off of that. Guys that are pitching that have been pitching all year long that you want to push for an extra out or two, those fans help them do that. It's the adrenaline factor that comes into play when you're pitching in front of your home crowd and there is that much energy. It's a big boost for us to be able to play one and two, six and seven here in front of our crowd.
Q. Jon Lester was telling me once that you guys are off‑season hunting buddies and hang out at times. Have you spoken with him at all recently or will you talk about anything?
NED YOST: No, we'll get together when we get home. His farm's about a half a mile from mine. There is a guy that does a lot of work on his farm and my farm. Right before all this started, my wife went, because she wanted some work done around the lake, and Larry told her, "I'll get to it as soon as I get done with Jon's stuff." My wife looked at him kind of funny and Larry goes, "Well, Deb, Jon wants this done before he gets home." And Debra goes, "Well, Ned wants this done before he gets home." And right before the Wild Card game, I called Larry and said, "Look, Larry. You can take your time on mine, but you better hurry up on Jon's." (Laughter). That was wishful thinking, and luckily it worked out.
Q. This morning you talked in the past about going to a Starbucks and having to give a fake name. Is that the case anymore?
NED YOST: No, that's back in the days when I was drinking all the fufu drinks, all the lattes and stuff. Now I just go with the straight black coffee. They don't even ask your name. They just hand it to you.
Q. Did you change your morning routine at all for Game 7?
NED YOST: No, no, nothing's changed.
Q. When you look at this Royals team again, whatever happens tonight, a lot of America wants to know is this a one‑year run or is this sustainable? How do you see the future?
NED YOST: Can we see if we can win tonight first before we decide, you know? I can say this: It's a tremendous group of young men. I think America has fallen in love with this group because of their energy, their passion, their fun‑loving nature. Even through the most stressful times, you can't pan in our dugout and not see them laughing and having a good time with each other, and I think people love seeing that. I think they like seeing Major League teams play like they were 14, 15 years old, having a great time with each other.
We've got a really good young core of players, and I think we're going to be good for years to come.