Perez's promised HR, rookie feat spark K.C. win
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Salvador Perez made a young fan’s night by coming through on his promise to hit a home run.
A few hours later, a couple of kids on the Kansas City Royals hit their own memorable shots.
Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier became the first rookies ever to hit back-to-back home runs to tie and win a game in the ninth inning, lifting the Royals over the Cleveland Indians 5-4 on Friday night.
O’Hearn and Dozier went deep off closer Cody Allen leading off the ninth inning, capping a wild finish that followed an odd game featuring a 30-minute delay when a broken water pipe near Kauffman Stadium’s outfield fountains led to flooding on the warning track.
“This is an incredible game, fun to be a part of,” Royals rookie right-hander Brad Keller said. “That ninth inning was so wild. I’ve never seen back-to-back homers to walk off a game. It was crazy. It’s fun. Baseball every day is different. That’s what makes it fun.”
It started before the game, when six-time All-Star catcher Perez guaranteed a fan in a wheelchair, Colin Couch, that he would hit a home run after meeting him before the game.
After Whit Merrifield opened the game with a walk and Alex Gordon followed with a single, Perez made good on the promise by smashing a 454-foot, opposite-field home run to right field — the longest by any Royal this season — into Kauffman Stadium’s iconic fountains.
“We were talking, and I said, ‘I’ll hit a homer for you today, OK?'” Perez said. “He was so happy and all that. After I hit a homer, I was looking, he was close to my family in the family [seating], so he was excited.”
Yonder Alonso socked a two-out, two-run home run off Brandon Maurer to put Cleveland ahead 4-3 in the eighth. Alonso also went deep in the fourth, marking his fifth career multihomer game and second this season.
O’Hearn and Dozier then rescued Kansas City from a sixth straight loss with their homers off Allen. O’Hearn, a rookie first baseman, tied it with a blast into the left-field bullpen, and Dozier followed with a wall-scraper to right-center field.
“I was just honestly trying to get a fastball to hit,” said Dozier, who has seven home runs. “I wanted to hit it out.”
It was the fourth blown save of the season for Allen (4-5), whose ERA climbed to 4.50 in the loss. Wily Peralta (1-0) picked up the victory for the Royals, who were fresh off a four-game sweep at the Tampa Bay Rays.
The fountains sprang a leak during the fourth inning. Relievers in the Royals bullpen jumped and yelled to alert game officials and maintenance workers, triggering the stoppage.
“I thought I was back in the minor leagues,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Nobody knew what was going on.”
As maintenance personnel worked to stop the flow of water, more than a dozen grounds crew members armed with squeegees wicked water from the warning track as it poured from under the fence. They also created a sandbag barrier to keep standing water from reaching the outfield grass.
Plate umpire Ramon DeJesus ejected Royals bench coach Dale Sveum during Michael Brantley‘s at-bat leading off the eighth inning. It was Sveum’s 16th career ejection — 10 as a manager, five as an assistant coach and one as a player.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy (left oblique strain) threw a simulated game. Kennedy hasn’t pitched since July 10 at Minnesota. … RF Jorge Soler (left toe fracture) took some swings against Kennedy during the simulated game. … RHP Jesse Hahn underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow a few weeks ago. It was not a reconstruction, commonly known as Tommy John surgery, but Hahn is expected to be sidelined at least six months. He suffered the UCL strain in March and had worked his way back to Triple-A through the rehab process, which started last month, before the surgery.
Indians: LHP Andrew Miller (right knee inflammation) returned Aug. 3 from the 60-day disabled list, but he has appeared in only nine games during the past three weeks. Francona said Friday that the priority is using Miller in situations when a win is on the line. When he’s not available, it taxes the bullpen — which is down to seven pitchers, including two situational arms. Relief will come when the rosters expand Sept. 1. … RHP Nick Goody has been sidelined with right elbow inflammation since May 3. He will have season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his elbow “sometime next week,” but the ulnar collateral ligament is intact, Francona said. … RHP Cody Anderson pitched off the mound in Arizona for the first time since having Tommy John surgery in March 2017.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner RHP Corey Kluber (16-6) gets the nod for the Indians in the second game of a three-game series. He is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two previous starts this season against the Royals, who send rookie RHP Heath Fillmyer (1-1) to the mound.