SAN FRANCISCO -- OK, enough of the Hunter Pence signs, like "Hunter Pence Thinks He's In Kansas" or "Hunter Pence Will Work For Ring." After the Royals' 3-2 victory in Game 3, what we need are Kansas City versions of the Hunter Pence signs:
Ned Yost Could Beat Garry Kasparov In Checkers
Could Yost beat him in chess? Maybe not. But Yost is definitely beating the Ned-haters in baseball strategy.
As usual, the Kansas City manager was first- and second- and third-guessed Friday, first for not pinch hitting for Jeremy Guthrie in the sixth inning and then for not pinch hitting for Kelvin Herrera in the seventh inning. But it doesn't matter what his critics think. Regardless of the criticism, the Royals grabbed a lead and held onto it. They now are two wins from their first championship in 29 years, something no Kansas City manager has been able to say since Dick Howser.
Managing in a National League park, Yost also had to drastically change his lineup for Game 3 (Mike Moustakas is part of a rare club of position players to bat ninth and fifth in a World Series game), but it worked. Alex Gordon, batting second, had an RBI double, and Lorenzo Cain, starting in right field, played there just as splendidly as he previously had in center.
Gordon, hitless in the series until the double, said Yost told him about the lineup move Thursday. "He told me not to change anything, stick with my approach and what I've been doing. And it was kind of nice to hear that from him."
Meanwhile, the manager whose decisions haven't paid off are those of Bruce (Don't Dare Bring In Hunter Strickland Again) Bochy.
Still, it probably would not be a good idea to bat Herrera again.
"We like to have him on the mound, not swinging the bat," outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. "I'm just glad he didn't get hit by a pitch."
Eric Hosmer Will Work The Count For A World Series Ring
One of the game's key moments was Hosmer's 11-pitch at-bat against Javier Lopez with two outs in the sixth.
"I didn't even know it was 11 pitches," Hosmer said. "I got down 0-2 awfully quick and he's a guy who throws from a different arm angle and is tough against lefties. But you just try to shorten up and put the ball in play and make something happen."
After fouling off several pitches and working the count to 3-2, Hosmer delivered a single that scored Gordon from second base. That gave the Royals their third run of the game, which proved to be the critical difference.
Hosmer, by the way, turned 25 Friday. Asked where the hit ranked among birthday presents, the first baseman replied, "[This ranks] No. 1. I could have struck out six times in five at-bats as long as we won."
Jeremy Guthrie Says Strikeouts Are Fascist -- He Throws Democratic Groundballs And Fly Outs
The Twitter Trolls ripped Yost for not pinch hitting for Guthrie to lead off the sixth inning, conveniently ignoring that the Royals were leading and the pitcher had held the Giants to two hits and no runs in the first five innings. But of course, that doesn't matter because Guthrie didn't strike out anyone and today's metrics place no importance on outs recorded by fielders. As far as the stat geeks are concerned, if a pitcher isn't striking anyone out, he's just getting lucky.
Granted, Guthrie gave up two hits and two runs to begin the sixth, but who's to say Herrera or any other reliever would have fared any differently?
"I would have loved to get more strikeouts," Guthrie said, "but I'm pleased I was able to throw strikes for the most part and stay ahead of the hitters and make them hit my pitch."
With Kansas City's defense, letting the opponents make contact isn't that bad a strategy. Speaking of which ...
Lorenzo Cain Doesn't Think He's In Kansas, But He Could Cover The Entire State
Cain was not nominated for a Gold Glove this season, but he should have been -- as he has shown repeatedly this postseason. Whether he's playing center field or right (as he did all Game 3), the man tracks down everything so relentlessly he should have his own TV series, "CSI: Kansas City."
"Some people say I should get upset about [not getting a Gold Glove], but I'm an even-keeled, laid-back guy," Cain said. "I'm working on getting this ring."
Kelvin Herrera Has A Porsche 911 With A Quadraphonic Blaupunkt
Herrera, like Nuke LaLoosh, throws high heat. He threw eight consecutive fastballs that registered 100 mph or more in Game 2. But like Nuke, he also has been a bit wild. Not so wild that he would break a window with a pitch, but wild enough that he walked two batters and threw more balls (14) than strikes (13) Friday. Yost tried to get two innings out of him, but Herrera wasn't throwing as hard as he did in Game 2 and has thrown 59 pitches in the past two games.
Yost said he wasn't sure whether Herrera would be available for Game 4. "I don't know. I'll see how he feels. Look, we're in the World Series. Everybody is available, but we don't want to be stupid. He might be available for an out or he might not. He may just say, 'You know what, I need a break.' "
The Giants probably wouldn't mind getting a break from him and the Royals' bullpen, either. The relievers pitched four hitless innings Friday and are now 7-0 with a 1.66 ERA in this postseason. Greg Holland has seven saves and hasn't given up a run. Wade Davis has given up only one run and struck out 14 in 11 1/3 innings.
"They're just nasty, man," Dyson said. "Sometimes, I think I don't need to take a glove out there."
Billy Butler Says The Designated Hitter Should Be Constitutional
"Country Breakfast" had two important run-scoring singles in Game 2, but the Royals' designated hitter sat on the bench Friday night because there is no DH used in a National League park in the World Series. He won't start again in Game 4, either. But he is available to pinch hit, should Yost decide not to let a pitcher bat. Which his critics will then rip.
Ignore the critics. Right now, all World Series signs point to Kansas City.