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Royals manager Ned Yost doesn't bother challenging key play at plate

Big League Stew

The Kansas City Royals might be doomed. Over the past couple of days, their leadership has made questionable statements and taken questionable actions — or at least one inaction — that makes one think the Royals are, well, doomed.

The Royals beat the San Diego Padres 3-1 in 11 innings Tuesday night at Petco Park, and that's great, but it's possible they could have won in nine innings and spared their bullpen the extra work, along with sparing their fans extra angina.

There is no excuse, no good reason at all, why manager Ned Yost failed to challenge a call at the plate in the ninth inning when, it looked like, Alcides Escobar might have been safe. The ump called Escobar out, so it would have required a reversal after checking replay, but as we saw with the Starling Marte play at Pittsburgh, it's not that outlandish of a possibility. Yost just wouldn't ask.

He's not the only one not being helpful. A day earlier, Royals general manager Dayton Moore vented about his team's lack of run production. He blamed their collective approach with runners in scoring position, telling Fox Sports Kansas City:

"I'm as frustrated as anyone," Moore told by phone. "It's very simple why we're not winning as much as we should be -- we're getting plenty of base runners but just not driving them in."

Blaming run production on the team's stats with RISP is OK. People will buy that, even if the evidence sits on a slippery slope. But Moore saying "we're getting plenty of base runners" is simply false: The Royals came in 13th of 15 AL teams in on-base percentage.

Do they think we're not listening and watching?

The play Petco that Yost didn't question was oddly similar to the one at PNC that Clint Hurdle did. With the score tied 1-all, Padres first baseman Kyle Blanks made a tough catch in foul ground of a pop-up. Escobar, who already had made two daring plays to get himself to third base, dashed for home. Blanks bounced the throw twice and made catcher Yasmani Grandal reach for the ball, but he got it and put his mitt in the general way of Escobar's slide.

Opinions differ on whether Escobar's slide reached the plate before he was tagged by Grandal. Escobar didn't argue, which probably didn't encourage Yost to question the call. It certainly would have made for a tense few minutes as the replay gurus went over the footage like forensic clinicians. But we'll never know because Yost, inexplicably, didn't ask. He had a replay challenge left in his possession, not that he would have needed it in the ninth inning on a play at the plate where his team could have taken a lead. The umps would have looked at it anyway.

In the postgame press conference, Yost was asked how close he was to making a challenge:

"Not real close. Because from our angle in the dugout it looked like he got him. The report that we got back, you know, I just thought it was inconclusive, so… I mean, it was a bang-bang play. It was a great send, it was a great time to take a chance right there. It was just a bang-bang play."

Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star followed up:

“I wasn’t going to waste the time,” he said, adding, “I thought if I challenged right there, I would have lost it.”

He might have lost the challenge. But, as Yost said, the only other thing he had to lose was time. Given that baseball operates without a clock, so what about time? Only sportswriters and semi-responsible parents mindful of children's bedtimes worry about the time in baseball.

• The "angle in the dugout." The angle in the dugout. The angle in the dugout? Since when is that the default angle of replay technology? They've got several angles — a dozen, a billion, infinite — some outside of the dugouts.

• He "just thought it was inconclusive." Boy, with advocates like this, who needs an opponent? Leave the conclusions up to the replay judges, Ned. Give your team a chance to win the game. That's the thing. Yost's inaction was downright negligent. If he were a doctor, he could be sued for malpractice. It's not even close to due diligence. Some players in that dugout, hopefully many, have to be wondering: What is a manager even for?

Yost's philosophy about not using his closer with tie scores on the road — it's questionable. At least he can make a semblance of an argument to back it up, even with a silly quote. But what happened against the Padres, it's just abject failure.

It's been a bad couple of days for Royals leadership on the West Coast.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at and follow him on Twitter!

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