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Ned Yost made the big pregame decision, parking Norichika Aoki on the bench in favor of Jarrod Dyson. It was the first time the Royals had changed their starting lineup in more than a month, with Lorenzo Cain sliding to right field and Alex Gordon moving into the second spot in the order. So that's where we'll start before touching on the rest of the night's action.

Yost, in essence, chose to bench his third-best hitter in favor of improved right-field defense. The regular-season gap in True Averages between Aoki and Dyson was 27 points, or about as far from Alex Gordon to Eric Hosmer. Yost wasn't derided for this decision because Aoki has stumbled during the postseason, and because AT&T Park features some unusual dimensions that up the difficulty level.

Still, it wasn't a black and white decision, in part due to the game's starting pitcher. During the regular season, Jeremy Guthrie averaged between three and four balls in the air to right field. If that rate held steady, there was a chance Dyson would receive more opportunities at the plate than Cain would in the field. How'd it play out? Evenly. Cain made each of the three plays he had a chance at in right, including a pair of sliding grabs, and Dyson made three trips to the plate, reaching once.

Those results aren't enough to say the decision paid off—maybe Aoki catches those balls as well, or perhaps he doesn't hit into an inning-ending double play in the second—but it's probably enough to say that Yost didn't regret his decision.

***

How many Royals fans held their breath when Gordon walked to the plate with a runner on second and nobody out in the first? No, he didn't bunt. He just grounded out to the right side, allowing Alcides Escobar, who had reached on a first-pitch, leadoff double to advance to third base. Escobar would score on a grounder a batter later, giving the Royals an early 1-0 lead.

***

Even after falling behind three batters into the game, Tim Hudson lasted into the sixth inning. He didn't look great through the first two innings, but settled down following a Buster Posey mound visit. At one point, Hudson retired 11 Royals in a row. Alas, what folks will probably remember about Hudson's start—besides, perhaps, his impressive defensive play during the first—is that he might've been left in too long. During the sixth inning, with a runner on and Gordon stepping in, the broadcast showed Javier Lopez hurrying to warm. Bruce Bochy didn't make the change, and so Hudson pitched to Gordon. It didn't work; Gordon doubled and gave the Royals a 2-0 lead.

It's worth noting that Lopez later yielded a single to Hosmer after a lengthy battle, which ought to soothe those contemplating what-if scenarios.

***

Speaking of second-guessed decisions, Yost offered a few of his own from that point onward. He allowed Guthrie to bat for himself to lead off the sixth inning, a decision that looked silly at the time, and myopic after Guthrie was lifted two batters and one run into the bottom half of the inning. To be clear: the sin wasn't letting him begin the bottom of the inning against the bottom of the order, but, rather, letting him hit in the top half.

***

Guthrie's replacement, Kelvin Herrera, by the way, allowed another run to cross, returning the game to one-run status.

***

With a bullpen face-off underway, Bochy brought in Sergio Romo to begin the seventh. It was the first time Romo had entered that early in a postseason game, and just the second time overall this season he'd done so.

***

Yost, meanwhile, didn't get aggressive. He left Herrera in to bat for himself against Romo, even after Dyson had reached first. On the one hand, with two outs, pinch-hitting Josh Willingham (or whomever) against Romo is unlikely to result in a run. On the other hand, Dyson would've score on a double and the alternative was a pitcher who stepped in the bucket. You understand Yost wanting Herrera out there for another inning, but the easiest solution would've been a double switch that lifted Mike Moustakas, who had made the final out of the previous inning. Herrera struck out (obviously), ending the inning.

Considering the score and the state of the bullpens, you would've liked to have seen Yost play a little more aggressive. Didn't matter in the end though.

***

Yost then had to replace Herrera after two batters faced. To be fair, he might've done so in order to preserve Herrera for Game Four. Either way, Brandon Finnegan came in and retired Juan Perez and Brandon Crawford with relative ease, thereby taking Herrera (and Yost) off the hook.

***

From there, the game was academic. Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Wade Davis, Santiago Casilla, and Greg Holland retired the game's final 12 batters without incident, giving the Royals the 2-1 series edge. The Royals can now win the championship without winning another road game.

***

Game Four is on Saturday night. The Royals will send Jason Vargas to the mound; the Giants will counter with Ryan Vogelsong.

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anderson721
10/25
I found it interesting that Hudson suddenly had difficulty right after the extra long inning break. I'm all for raising money for cancer, but FOX could have skipped the extra set of commercials.
oldbopper
10/25
Yost had a good game. There was no reason to double switch. The Royals needed Moustakas in there for defense and the odds on Willingham delivering were longgggg. Herrera was also the right man to start the 7th. It was Bochy who blew the game by allowing Hudson to try to get through the order three times. The fact that Lopez was not ready to face Gordon was the managerial blunder of the post season. So what if Lopez gave up a hit to a lefty later in the inning, he is tough as nails on leftie. Quoting BP's 2014 annual, "Lopez has proven he is amongthe game's best lefty specialists, if not the best", and was the man to have in there to face Gordon. Shame on Bochy!
rawagman
10/25
The managerial blunders of this postseason were made by managers long since eliminated. Both Matt Williams and Mike Matheny let depth pitchers throw super high leverage innings with their seasons on the line and both paid for it.
rawagman
10/25
Also - Bochy going with Strickland in Game 2 was more egregious than not having Lopez ready in the 6th with Hudson coasting through five.
oakwcj
10/25
Bochy's most egregious error was putting Machi on the roster. His splitter has been awful for two months. I don't think letting Hudson pitch to Gordon was a blunder at all. Lopez is a LOOGY. He wasn't going to pitch to Cain, so it made sense to leave Hudson in until Hosmer came up. Hosmer had a great AB and singled after an 11-pitch battle. We shouldn't put everything on the manager. The Giants haven't been able to hit the Royal's hittable starters for two games. The Giants stopped hitting for two months in the middle of the season.
oldbopper
10/25
This is the post season, not July, and, at this pivotal moment in the game, this was the spot to use your exceptionally good LOOGY. Every game is basically all hands on deck so no one is saving their bullpen. Cain was followed by Hosmer and Moustakas so it was an ideal spot for Lopez. Letting Gordon face Hudson for the third time was a recipe for disaster.