The Kansas City Royals stole two games on the road in Anaheim, and now have a chance to put away the Angels and advance to the American League Championship Series against the winner of Baltimore/Detroit. Kansas City, with James Shields on the mound Sunday, are -129 favorites in Game Three. Manager Ned Yost talked about his team on Saturday:
Q. Anything new with Kelvin?
NED YOST: I mean, he’s on the training table and he’s going to go out and throw, so I don’t quite know right now. As soon as he gets done we’ll see where he’s at.
Q. And we’ll have another press conference to talk about it?
NED YOST: No, I’ll let you know tomorrow.
Q. What’s the plan, next plan up, to replace Herrera if that’s the case?
NED YOST: We haven’t even thought about that because that’s not going to be a necessity.
Q. How happy are you for Moose and Hos to see them come through?
NED YOST: I’m real happy with the whole group. I mean, I’m happy with the way that Hos and Moose and Cain and Dyson and Herrera, all of them. I think Gordy said it best last night. We came into this with no playoff experience, but after the Wild Card Game, what more experience do you need? They’ve played true to that. This has been?? I mean, this is a different group than I’ve seen during the regular season in terms of their focus, their confidence, their fire. They’re enjoying the playoffs.
Q. Obviously you don’t want to play extra innings every night, but you mentioned the confidence level of this team. Do you think that game last Tuesday could be the difference maker for the rest of the way for you guys?
NED YOST: Well, it could be. That’s the game that really, you know, showed them that, hey, we can go into a pressure?packed game with a packed stadium with the whole world watching and perform, and like I said, they’ve been a different group from that point on.
Q. When you think about this team, three wins now, you all have postseason experience, they have postseason wins, so the question is answered, but winning the fashion they did in the last three games, what does that tell you about those guys?
NED YOST: Well, it tells us that our pitching is real good. It tells us that our defense is really good, and that’s what it’s about. You try to get a lead and hold it, and when they battle back and tied the ballgame, the bullpen’s job is to come in and hold it, and all of them have done a great job. The guys on the bench, they’re doing whatever they can do to find ways to get on. It’s like Moose the other day before he hit the home run, his focus was to get on base so Jarrod Dyson can play for him. They’re winning baseball games. They’re doing what they need to do to win baseball games at a high level.
Q. You rarely see this with a team with so much inexperience.
NED YOST: Well, like I said, they’ve got a lot of passion. They have a lot of energy. They have a lot of confidence in each other, and you know, we went into this playing good baseball, from the middle of?? right after the All?Star Break, four games after the All?Star Break, this team kind of took off, and they’ve been playing great baseball ever since. They definitely got hot at the right time.
Q. How is Salvy doing today?
NED YOST: Fine. I just talked to him. He’s doing great.
Q. How close was he last night to coming out of that game?
NED YOST: You know, that’s a hard question to answer. You know, if Nick had seen any symptoms of a concussion, we’d have taken him out. But Nick, who’s extremely thorough, you know, gave him every test, and if Nick feels good about it, then I feel good about it, and if he had any questions about it, we were going to take him out. But he passed all the tests standing there and had a bit of a headache but got through it fine. No dizziness, no disorientation, nothing like that. Whacked him pretty good, though.
Q. Do you anticipate any lineup changes against a left?hander than what you did in Anaheim?
NED YOST: No, I don’t.
Q. I was curious if from your vantage point you feel like your team’s style of play with the speed you have, the defense, the bullpen, causes your opponents to kind of play outside their comfort zone and try and do things differently than they normally would. Anaheim was bunting a lot more, they were throwing over a lot more. Do you think you put pressure on other teams?
NED YOST: Well, I don’t think we put pressure on them offensively, but I do think we put pressure on them defensively to do things. They know that we have speed. They know that we’re aggressive on the base paths. That affects both the catcher and the starting pitcher or the pitcher that’s on the mound, knowing that he has to have concern with not only the hitter but the base runner. It’s a lot easier to do your job when you’ve just got one thing to be concerned about.
You know, the fielders know that we’ve got speed busting down the line, that they’ve got to make strong, accurate throws on tough plays, which forces the issue at times, even though they’re tremendous defenders. But yeah, speed and athleticism does put extra pressure on the defense.
Q. Can you sense the opposing team knows how strong your bullpen is and is trying to counteract that and not sort of play their standard game against you?
NED YOST: But their standard game, when you look at their standard game, their standard game, they’ve got guys that can hit homers, can hit doubles, and they’ve got speed, too. But I mean, that’s their style. Our pitching staff has done a great job of pitching to a real good pitching plan and executing pitches to keep them from doing that, but I mean, that’s a team that can jump up and put some runs on the board in a hurry.
Q. You said you’re proud of the whole team, but really Moose and Hosmer in particular for what they’ve been through, do you take a lot of joy because you’ve been the guy along the way with them bringing them through?
NED YOST: Well, I take joy because they’re here. I’ve been talking to them for the last four years about how special the playoffs are and how much excitement it is, but you cannot understand what it’s all about until you get here, and after the game, the Wild Card Game, they saw it. It’s like, wow, this is far and above anything that I even imagined a playoff atmosphere would be like, and they love it.
You know, they’re all kind of rising to the occasion of it because it’s high intensity, it’s high pressure. A lot of expectation. But they feel comfortable with it.