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Ned Yost's aggressive, optimal managing helps Royals to Game 2 win

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Ned Yost started managing for Game 2 before Game 1 had even finished, and it helped lead to a Royals win and a tied World Series.

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Game 2 of the World Series was about as much of a must-win of a situation for the Royals as you can get without it being an elimination game. As it is, teams who have won the first game of the World Series have a 70-39 record in the Fall Classic, so dropping Game 2, while not an impossible hole to dig out of, would have made things difficult for Kansas City. Royals manager Ned Yost responded appropriately, going all out with his managing style before Game 2 even began. The result was a Royals' 7-2 victory, a tied series, and now what is essentially a best-of-five between San Francisco and Kansas City from here on out.

The key to the game was forged the day before; Yost avoided using any of his key relievers in a Game 1 that got out of hand early. James Shields lasted just three innings while allowing five runs, and then Danny Duffy -- a starter during the year who had yet to appear in the postseason -- threw three innings of Biting the Bullet relief to allow another two. Tim Collins and Jason Frasor ended up handling the other two innings, and while both are good, neither is a central cog in the playoff version of the Royals' pen. Those roles belong to Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and closer Greg Holland.

All three appeared in Game 2, even when the contest was very much in the Royals' favor. Yost could afford that kind of aggressive overdoing it, because Thursday is the first off day in the series and everyone should be fresh once again by Game 3. Yost once again used Herrera somewhere besides the comfort zone he had created for his setup man, replacing starter Yordano Ventura with one out in the sixth rather than waiting until the seventh as was seemingly always the case until a week ago. Herrera finished the sixth and then threw the entire seventh, logging 32 pitches in the process. Davis came in for his typical eighth-inning performance, and then closer Greg Holland did his thing in the ninth, even though it wasn't a save situation. Yost wasn't messing around; the Royals were not in a position to do so.

Gore
Photo credit: Elsa | Getty Images

It wasn't just the pitching or Yost's writing off Game 1 that helped lead to a Game 2 victory, though. He was also aggressive on the position-player side of things, and it helped lead to the Royals blowing this thing wide open. After Billy Butler hit a go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning, Yost replaced him with their fastest pinch-runner, Terrance Gore. Gore would end up scoring from second on a Salvador Perez double to push the lead to 5-2. An Omar Infante home run in the same inning scored Perez and pushed the score to 7-2. This was a risky move for Yost to make, because, despite the seven runs the Royals put on the board on Wednesday, they just aren't a great offensive team. They were last in the AL in OPS+ this year, and while they've hit well enough in the postseason to get to the World Series, they've had a lot of things go their way: Bloop singles, seemingly every bunt and hit-and-run coming up Royals, as well as uncharacteristic -- and timely -- homers push them to wins that their pitching and defense had earned them. Removing Butler, one of the few credible threats in the lineup when he's right, was a risk, but a calculated one.

Yost had already upgraded his outfield defense immediately before with the game tied, 2-2, pushing Lorenzo Cain to right field in favor of Jarrod Dyson, who replaced Norichika Aoki. This is a normal defensive arrangement for the Royals late, but Yost went to it early to do everything he could to make sure the Kansas City left Kauffman Stadium with this series tied, 1-1.

The Giants managed to interrupt the Royals' home field advantage by taking Game 1, but the Royals now get to turn to Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas, who will enjoy the pitcher-friendly nature of AT&T Park. They'll miss Butler's bat in the lineup with the pitcher hitting, but they now have him as well as Josh Willingham on the bench for pinch-hitting situations in addition to the toys Yost had already deployed effectively from his bench this October. The bullpen will once again be rested, and the Royals are no longer down in the series. The Royals still need to win three games, but thanks to Wednesday's aggressive tactics and some timely hits, so do the Giants.