Actually, the higher-leverage situation is in the seventh inning, when those runners are on base and the Royals’ lead is in jeopardy. Hillman tried. He really did. He’s merely a victim of baseball’s culture of convention. He and Gardenhire and every other manager not named Joe Maddon are handed relief pitchers developed in a system where role (get outs in a specific situation) matters as much as deed (get outs, period).
The blame falls on the organizations, not the managers.