SAN FRANCISCO - Bruce Bochy, vying for his third ring in five years, is considered one of the game's top managers. Ned Yost is constantly trying to prove he's not the worst.
Yet somehow Yost's Royals now have a 2-1 advantage over Bochy's Giants in this World Series, courtesy of Friday night's 3-2 victory at AT&T Park.
We say "somehow'' because Yost, as he tends to do, again defied a number of basic managing tenets in navigating the tricky sixth and seventh innings. He also made a curious admission after his Royals improved to 10-1 this postseason.
In the seventh, with reliever Kelvin Herrera on deck to hit for the first time in his major-league career, Yost wanted Jarrod Dyson to be the third out.
Think about that. Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead. In the World Series. And Yost preferred that Dyson -- who has the ability to steal second -- not reach base at all so he wouldn't have to nudge Herrera to the plate.
"Actually, I was hoping Dice would make an out there," Yost said. "But he steps up, foils my plan and gets a hit. So that's the way the National League game works."
Indeed it is, Ned.
We know Game 3 was the first in the NL park, but we're guessing the no-DH concept didn't sneak up on Yost. There's been interleague play for a while, and he managed the Brewers after Bud Selig slid them to the NL.
As for potentially double-switching Herrera into the game in the sixth so his spot in the order wouldn't come up fourth in the seventh, Yost insisted that he didn't want to mess with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who made the second and third outs of the sixth. As for the outfielders, Yost wanted his best defensive alignment to remain intact, too.
For Game 3, Yost chose to start Dyson over Nori Aoki, moving Lorenzo Cain to rightfield. And what happens? Cain makes two sliding catches in the first two innings to rob Buster Posey and Travis Ishikawa.
If anyone had refused to believe in Ned-tober, they must have converted after this win.
There is lucky. And then there is invincible.
After Herrera predictably struck out to end the seventh, he set up his manager for failure by walking Hunter Pence to lead off the bottom half. And with lefthander Brandon Finnegan ready for the next three Giants lefties, Yost stayed with Herrera.
Everything still broke his way. Herrera whiffed Brandon Belt, Finnegan got the next two outs, including righthanded-hitting pinch hitter Juan Perez, and Yost went to Wade Davis and Greg Holland to finish up.
Royals fans must be thinking: If what Yost is doing is wrong, we don't want to be right.
For all the second-guessing and head-scratching, he just keeps winning.
Who needs a genius like Joe Maddon?
Maddon's stunning escape from the Rays was announced hours before the first pitch at AT&T Park, triggering speculation about where Maddon is headed.
There's no guarantee, however, that Maddon's particular style would be as successful with any team in any market. That's difficult to predict.
There were plenty of times during this season that Yost's future in Kansas City seemed to be in jeopardy. Now that he is two wins from a World Series ring, does that make him a great manager? Hardly. But he seems to be sufficient.
"He's an incredible leader," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "He's very passionate. He's the most competitive person I know. He's very positive. He's always optimistic."
Notice that Moore didn't specifically mention Yost's in-game strategy or bullpen management, two areas that have bitten him in the past.
No manager is perfect. Joe Torre is a Hall of Famer, but he eventually was chased out of the Bronx. Yost, incredibly, is still smiling in Kansas City.
"It's not me doing it," Yost said. "It's the guys that we put out there that are doing it."
He's right, of course. Again.