NEW YORK — The Royals have been waiting patiently for infielder Hunter Dozier, presumably a part of the team’s rebuild, to snap out of a dreadful slump.
There were signs of that on Sunday in the Royals’ 6-3 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Royals lost three of four in the series.
Dozier, the team’s top Draft pick in 2013, entered the game 9-for-57 since June 29 (.158). After he nearly homered in the second inning, sending a drive deep into the right-field corner that was caught, he walked in the fourth before hitting a home run, his fifth, to right-center in the seventh. It was his first home run since June 23 at Houston.
“I think the reason I’ve been flaring balls is that my timing is off,” Dozier said. “I’m late. We’ve been working on better timing lately. Today I wasn’t trying to drive it over there. I was just trying to go middle and stay on time. The second one, I put a better swing on it.”
Rosell Herrera homered in the eighth inning, his first Major League four-bagger.
Right-hander Burch Smith, a Rule 5 Draft acquisition, was the third straight Royals rookie to make his first appearance at Yankee Stadium. And like Brad Keller and Heath Fillmyer before him, he struggled with his command.
Smith walked three and gave up five hits and five runs over four-plus innings. He threw 90 pitches, 60 for strikes.
“Before we came here, we talked about how our young pitchers would respond to pitching here,” manager Ned Yost said. “And for the most part, they did all right as a group. We didn’t throw nearly enough strikes. But I thought they all competed well. All in all, you look at it and was it great? No. Was it OK? Yeah, it was OK. I was encouraged.”
Smith gave up a two-run home run to Aaron Hicks on a curveball in the first inning. Hicks also doubled and scored in the fourth.
“They were too hittable,” Smith said. “I didn’t have that pitch, as well as much of anything else.”
Red-hot catcher Salvador Perez hit his 18th home run of the season in the sixth. Perez has hit in seven straight games, with seven home runs in his last 16.