After fighting back with a two-run homer in the eighth, the Cleveland Indians were punched square in the mouth by the young Kansas City Royals in the ninth, as back-to-back homers from rookies Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier off of closer Cody Allen delivered a 5-4 home plate mobbing for the home team.
The on-going woes for Allen continued as he needed just four pitches to cough up the game, sending the Indians (73-55) to their third straight defeat. It marked the first time in Major League history that a pair of rookies hit consecutive homers in the ninth inning to tie and win the game.
It marked a wild ending to a bizarre night at Kauffman Stadium, as the Indians had to overcome a 3-0 first inning deficit only to lose it on the fourth and fifth homers of the contest. In addition to the surprise ending for the hometown Royals, the game was delayed by 30 minutes in the fourth when a pipe burst near the outfield fountains well known at the park. Water leaked out onto the warning track and required significant efforts from the grounds crew to clean up.
The Royals took the lead in the first inning as each of the first three batters reached and came in to score against Tribe starter Mike Clevinger. Whit Merrifield started the home half with a walk and Alex Gordon reached with a single. Salvador Perez crushed an opposite field blast 454 feet for a three-run shot to the fountains to put the Royals up big with his team-leading 22nd round-tripper of the year.
The Indians stranded a pair in the first against Brad Keller, but in the third, they struck through with a well-manufactured run. Greg Allen singled, snuck into second on a close stolen base attempt, and tagged up and moved to third on a deep fly out to left by Francisco Lindor. Michael Brantley singled him home to make it a 3-1 game.
Yonder Alonso made it a one-run game in the fourth after a seven-pitch battle with Keller. He drove a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right into the bullpen near the site of the pending water leak, making the score 3-2 on his 21st homer of the year.
Clevinger retired 11 in a row before a double to left by O’Hearn in the fourth. He had to work around some trouble in the fifth, when Brett Phillips walked to lead off the inning and Gordon moved him to third on a single to center, but Perez grounded out to leave a pair.
Brian Flynn retired the side in order in the sixth and Kevin McCarthy got a big double play to erase a leadoff single from Yan Gomes in the seventh. Brandon Maurer was unable to have the same success in the eighth, however, as Jose Ramirez reached on a one-out single. After he moved to second on a groundout by Edwin Encarnacion, Alonso launched his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to right, that put the Indians on top for the first time on the night, 4-3.
After an inning of relief from Andrew Miller, Brad Hand took the mound in the eighth to protect the lead. He walked Perez with one out, but got a force out and a groundout to leave the tying run on the bases.
The Indians had a chance to tack on in the ninth against Wily Peralta. Gomes singled and was sacrificed to second by Allen. He moved to third on a wild pitch, but Lindor grounded to first for the second out. Brantley walked, but with runners on the corners, Ramirez grounded out to short in a close play at first to miss out on a big insurance run.
In the ninth, Allen entered for the save, but his first pitch fastball up and away to O’Hearn was driven the opposite way and over the wall in left to tie the game. After a knuckle curve up and in, Dozier cut on another offspeed pitch at the bottom of the zone. Pitch three of the at bat and the fourth of the inning was on the outside edge and Dozier drove it over the wall in right-center to give the Royals a celebration at the plate with an unlikely walk-off shot and a 5-4 win.
The Royals (39-90) remain in heated contention for the top overall pick in the 2019 draft. Peralta got the win with a scoreless ninth, his first of the season. Keller took a no-decision after five innings of two-run baseball. He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out five.
Clevinger provided a quality start after his rough first inning. After allowing the first three runners to score, he settled down the rest of the way and worked six innings, giving up three runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Miller and Hand each worked a scoreless inning, while Allen suffered his fifth loss and fourth blown save of the season.
The Tribe will look to its ace to end its three-game skid on Saturday evening in a 7:15 PM ET start. Corey Kluber (16-6, 2.74 ERA) will continue his Cy Young defense with his better pitching of late and wins in four straight games. Right-hander Heath Fillmyer (1-1, 4.57) will counter for the Royals, looking to bounce back from a short outing his last time to the mound when he allowed six runs on seven hits with three home runs surrendered.
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