CLEVELAND — Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier, an American League finalist for the starting position in the 2019 All-Star Game, continues to make his case.
Dozier blasted his first career grand slam in the ninth off Indians closer Brad Hand, who had been 22-for-22 in save opportunities. But the Royals hammered him for five runs in the ninth — all with none out — to win in dramatic fashion, 8-6, on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Trailing, 6-3, going into the ninth, the Royals got things going with a Martin Maldonado double, and singles by Whit Merrifield, Nicky Lopez and Alex Gordon. Lopez’s single scored Maldonado to make it 6-4.
Dozier came up and went after a first-pitch slider from Hand and belted a no-doubter to left-center field, his 13th home run this season.
Royals starter Glenn Sparkman simply had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark.
Sparkman worked with a 2-1 lead going into the fifth, but he gave up back-to-back home runs to Roberto Perez and Mike Freeman. Perez pounded a 3-2 four-seam fastball just over the fence in right field. Freeman lifted a changeup into the right-field seats and it was 3-2 Indians.
The Royals tied it in the sixth, but Sparkman got tagged again in the bottom half. After a leadoff walk, Sparkman hung a curve that was middle-middle to Tyler Naquin, who yanked it just over the fence in right for a two-run homer and it was 5-3.
Merrifield gave the Royals a 2-1 lead with a two-run double in the fifth.