Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost, with his team up 2-0 against Toronto in the American League Championship Series, announced Chris Young as his starter in the fourth game of the series. He also discussed the upcoming trip to Toronto, just two wins away from a repeat trip to the World Series.
Q. Have you picked a Chris?
NED YOST: Yeah, Chris.
Q. K or C?
NED YOST: C, the big tall boy. The big tall one.
Q. What went into that one?
NED YOST: He’s got really good numbers against these guys. They’re both great choices, but, you know, Chris Young, his last two starts of the year were really, really good for us. We feel like he gives us a good chance to win.
Q. What do you think this ballpark does to give the Jays an advantage, is there anything specific about playing in the dome here?
NED YOST: It’s a smaller ballpark than ours. And they’re used to playing on the turf, the turf is a little bit slower than it was before they changed it out. It’s a nice playing surface.
But they’re just comfortable here, like we’re comfortable at home. There’s a comfort level in playing in your own stadium, sleeping in your own bed, playing in front of your own fans.
Q. It seems like there was a little lull during the season with Chris Young in terms of how much you were going to use him or where you were going to spot him. Can you discuss what it took to get him going again or what you saw changed.
NED YOST: The reason we put him in the pen is for exactly this time, all right? We wanted him to be strong at the end of the year. We wanted him to be ready in case we needed him in these type of scenarios. We needed him at the end of the year. And he came up big for us in both starts that he made.
You know, the thing about Chris Young is he’s such a competitor. You know he’s going to be well prepared. He’s got that deception in his delivery. When his slider is going, it’s very, very tough to see, let alone hit. So he’s got a lot of weapons.
Q. Just a quick follow-up with that, looking at him that way, was that a lot based on what you saw last season with how he got fatigued by the end of the year?
NED YOST: Right. Right. I felt like when we saw Chris last year twice, it was still early in the year and he just dominated us. And at the end of the year I think he wore down a little bit. So I wanted to make sure that we had a full-strength Chris Young at the end of the year this year to be able to handle these types of situations for us, where we could put him in a game where we need a big win and he’s going to be strong and ready to compete.
Q. Salvy took a beating, but does he look fresher to you this Postseason than last season?
NED YOST: Yeah, he looked fresh to me last Postseason. Defensive-wise he was an aggressive swinger, like he always did.
But, yeah, I think we did a better job this year of resting him. Drew Butera did a great job of filling in for him in days, and I had a lot of confidence in Drew that I could give Salvy a day off and not lose anything defensively, which helped.
But he’s in great shape. He feels great. I think he’s strong.
Q. I think you’ve answered this before, but with your bullpen when Greg went down and you decided to put Madson in the inning and keep Kelvin in the 7th, did that help Kelvin staying in that role and he’s been pretty sharp so far this Postseason?
NED YOST: Yeah, I think it did. To be able to give both of those guys, you know, rest, throughout September definitely helped both of those guys.
And we’re not set on a seventh, eighth inning role between those guys. We feel real comfortable using either one of those guys in certain situations, and depending on matchups and what’s going on in the inning. But I think the ability in September to make sure that those guys never threw more than two days in a row, and a lot of times we would give them a day, give them a day — they’d pitch a day, give them a day, pitch a day, give them a day. We were able to manipulate that the last three weeks preparing for this time, knowing that, hey, these guys are going to go two days in a row and quite possibly could go three days in a row because they’re that good.
Q. How important do you think Johnny’s performance in Game 5 was for his confidence?
NED YOST: I don’t know. He said going into Game 5, you’re going to see the real Johnny Cueto. And I thought Johnny threw the ball well in the first start that he had in the playoff game, too. I thought he threw the ball really well there. Stuff ticked up a bit in Game 5.
But I don’t think Johnny’s confidence was suffering any at that point. I just feel like he was preparing himself for the playoffs at the end of the year so that when he got here, he could, like the relievers, bam, get after it.
Q. Are you a believer that a series doesn’t start until somebody wins on the road? And if so, how big were those first two games?
NED YOST: I don’t believe any of that stuff. You know what? Every game is important, it really is. To win the first game was huge. To come back to win the second game was even bigger.
But our focus again, and it’s so boring, it’s just day to day. I don’t think anybody in that clubhouse — we celebrated yesterday, that was a big win for us. But that’s over. We know that this club is capable of getting on a run and putting together two or three or four wins in a row. You have to keep your guard up. You’ve got to continue to stay focused and you’ve got to be able to stay on the attack. And it doesn’t matter if you’re home or you’re on the road.
That’s a good team that can put some runs up on the board in a hurry and smother you with offense. You’ve got to pitch well, aggressively. We’ve got to play good defense and do what we’ve been doing with the bats.
Q. If I remember the timing right that Chris pitched the day after his father died. And I don’t know a lot or what you can share about what your discussion with him was that day about him wanting to go on and how he was able to do that.
NED YOST: Well, you know, it was that night, about 8:00 we got a call that they had taken his dad to the hospital and that things weren’t good. And it was about the sixth inning, I think of that ballgame. By the time the game was done, he was in Davy’s office and I went in there. Of course, you know it’s your dad, he’s really upset. So I told him, Chris, go home. Just go home. He goes, It’s not going to do me any good to go home. I said, Well, just see your dad. He said, I saw him last Monday. And he said, You know, from the minute you guys told me — this was his first start back, From the minute you guys told me that I was going to pitch that game, I knew we were going to win. I want to be here to win that game tomorrow.
He said, My dad would not want me to go home. He would not. I said, Well, you just think about it and if you feel different in the morning, we’re covered. I’ve got guys that could start. So he said, I’m not going to feel different about it. I said, Okay.
About midnight I got a call from Dayton that Chris’s father had passed away. But he was adamant that he was going to start that day and he was going to win that game. He sure did. He just came out, it was so hard for him. We didn’t know — at that point he hadn’t been starting and we were hoping that he could get to 75, 70 pitches, and get through five innings.
He was in the middle 60 pitches, in the fourth inning and he said, I’ve got one good inning left. And he came in and boom, boom, boom, one, two, three, walked off the field and straight into the clubhouse to catch a plane home.