Games are won and lost by players; managers rarely have a lot to do with it. Sure they pick the reliever who comes out of the bullpen, they can call for a sacrifice bunt or a stolen base, and they decide the lineup. But in the end, each of these teams is composed of the best of the best baseball players in the world. Even when the manager puts them in a bad position it is up to them to find a way to come through.
That being said, Ned Yost sure does find a lot of ways to put his players in awkward positions. Today's adventure occurred in the eighth inning. Ian Kennedy had been pitching well all day. He only made a single costly mistake when he left a fastball up to Yan Gomes, making his first big league start since July due to various injuries, and Gomes crushed it for a two-run home run. So, with around 100 pitches thrown and entering the eighth inning of a tie game against the top of a dangerous Cleveland batting order for the fourth time Ned Yost sent Kennedy back to the mound. Not only did Yost ask Kennedy to go back to the mound, but he didn't even get a reliever up in case the likeliest outcome were to occur - that a starting pitcher tired from both a lot of pitches today and a lot of innings over the course of the entire season would probably not be able to escape the inning unscathed.
Coco Crisp led off the inning and popped out, but then Carlos Santana took the first walk issued by Kennedy on the day. Then Yost got a reliever up and, of course, it was Joakim Soria. To be fair, Soria did his job when he finally got in the game. But before that could happen Kennedy allowed a double to Jason Kipnis, a sacrifice fly to Francisco Lindor, and walked Mike Napoli. When Soria finally did come in he struck out Jose Ramirez with little trouble to end the inning.
Yost's decision making process and Kennedy's inability to cover for it wasted a pair of leadoff doubles from Jarrod Dyson and Whit Merrifield as well as a fifth inning home run by Cheslor Cuthbert that he bounced off and over the top of the wall in left center.
The Royals finish the season at exactly .500, 81-81. Now begins what has long been my favorite part of the baseball year: the off-season. Whether your team loses 100 games or wins 100 there is always time to try to get excited about potential new free agents. I remember when Juan Gonzalez was going to break Balboni's record, when Gil Meche was going to become the next ace, and when Scott Podsednik was going to steal us a pennant. The baseball off-season is like a movie trailer for the next year. Even if the movie ends up sucking, the trailers are usually pretty exciting.