Hunter Dozier’s 10th-inning home run on a 2-0 pitch lifted the Royals to their first road win of the season and avoided a series sweep at the hands of the Chicago White Sox on a wild Wednesday afternoon.
Dozier’s fifth home run of the season provided the margin of victory in a game between division rivals marked by emotion, ejections, injury and anxiety. The extra-inning affair concluded with the Royals grabbing a 4-3 win on their way out of town in front of an announced 14,358 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“It brought some emotion to the game for both teams, a little extra incentive to win,” Dozier said of the benches clearing in the sixth inning. “A little emotion is good for the game.”
Dozier and Alex Gordon each had two RBIs. Scott Barlow pitched a scoreless 10th inning and recorded his first career save. Dozier’s go-ahead homer came on the heels of his walk-off RBI single in the final game of their recent homestand on Sunday.
“Yeah, I think I’ve failed at enough (clutch situations) to kind of learn how to stay calm in those situations and try not to do too much,” Dozier said. “Just try to put the barrel on the ball and good things will happen.”
The afternoon also featured several other noteworthy developments:
▪ White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, who’d enjoyed great success against the Royals, left the game in the third because of injury.
▪ Their young star third baseman Yoan Moncada, who hit two home runs Tuesday night, left the game for precautionary reasons. He was smacked in the helmet with a rocket of a throw by Royals catcher Martin Maldonado as Moncada slid into second on a stolen base attempt. Moncada tested negative for a concussion.
▪ Royals starter Brad Keller, who’d held the White Sox scoreless over seven innings earlier this season, exited amid a flurry of ejections following a bench-clearing altercation that was sparked when he plunked White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson in the sixth inning.
▪ Royals bench coach Dale Sveum, White Sox manager Rick Renteria and Anderson watched from the clubhouse after all three were ejected. Sveum’s ejection marked the 16th of his career, including his sixth as a coach (10 as a manager, one as a player).
▪ White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka snapped a season-long 0-for-32 streak at the plate that was 0-for-34 overall dating to last season.
Giolito, who’d taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Royals in Kansas City earlier this season, came up lame and reached for his hamstring after the fourth pitch of a third inning at-bat by Gordon. With two outs, right-hander Ryan Burr took over facing a 1-2 count on Gordon.
Entering Wednesday, Giolito was 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA in seven career starts against the Royals. He’d been even better against them in his home park, going 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA in two career starts at Guaranteed Rate Field.
With Giolito leaving abruptly, the Royals got into the White Sox’ bullpen before the end of the third inning. But they weren’t immediately able to take advantage.
The White Sox, who scored all five of their runs the previous night via home runs, drew first blood on Anderson’s two-run home run with two outs in the fourth.
Anderson’s blast went about two-thirds of the way up the the left field stands, and Anderson celebrated the homer off the Royals’ ace, Keller, with an abundantly exuberant bat flip.
Keller, who walked four in five-plus innings, limited the damage to two runs in the fourth. A relay throw from deep in the left-field corner by Gordon to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi to catcher Maldonado cut down Jose Abreu as he tried to score from first on a double earlier in the inning. Keller still needed 76 pitches to get through four innings.
“Kind of really sporadic today,” Keller said of his outing. “Worked around a lot of base runners today. Didn’t have my best command.”
The Royals pulled even with the bases loaded on Gordon’s two-out, two-run single up the middle in the fifth inning. Chris Owings, who reached on a fielder’s choice, and Maldonado, who reached on an error, scored for Gordon’s 14th and 15th RBIs of the season.
Keller plunked Anderson in the rear end in the sixth, the ejections were tallied and Royals reliever Ian Kennedy was pressed into immediate action. Dozier’s seventh-inning RBI single put the Royals in front 3-2, with the outcome in the hands of the bullpen.
Royals left-handed reliever Jake Diekman allowed two hits and a walk after taking over for Kennedy. He was also charged with the tying run that scored on Leury Garcia’s bases-loaded single off KC’s third reliever of the day, Wily Peralta, in the eighth inning.
The score remained tied, 3-3, until Dozier’s homer in the 10th.
“Great job by the bullpen,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They came in some tough situations and really came through. I think we had to try to do anything we could to win the ballgame and extend guys out. “