When we look back on 2018, it will be called the O’Hearn-Dozier game.
The first three paragraphs looked a lot different up until about 10:40 p.m. (CT), when the Royals suddenly pulled a Lazarus, rose from the dead and shocked the Cleveland Indians in 5-4 fashion. On the one hand, I’m a little bummed, because there was a quality joke in there about Brandon Maurer being reliably awful in big spots, but I’m sure it can wait for another time and hey, a walk-off! On back-to-back homers from a pair of rookies! Happiness! Haven’t seen enough of that this year! Too many exclamation marks!
In a season that’s been devoid of special moments, more than one stood out tonight. There was Salvador Perez, promising to hit a home run for a wheel-chair bound fan and delivering to start the game. And then there were Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier walking off to end it. Right in the ol’ feels—albeit for different reasons—both times: Salvy, the ultimate good guy, doing an ultimate good guy thing and O’Hearn and Dozier, both young and scuffling at different times this year, enjoying one of baseball’s most fun moments.
Hey, people that say baseball is boring: I just listed two examples of how wrong you are. I’ve got lots more, even if the Royals are gonna lose 110 games this year.
Brad Keller was very good again. He danced around a couple of first-inning shenanigans, surrendering a single to Francisco Lindor and a walk to Jose Ramirez in the first… but otherwise he struck out the side.
All things offensive and Royal-related (for the first eight innings) happened in the first inning. Actually, they happened within the first three batters. Whit Merrifield walked, Alex Gordon singled and Perez ripped his homer.
All things royally offensive happened after, when the Royals put [quick count] five runners on base during innings one-plus-through-eight.
Meanwhile, Cleveland dutifully chipped away at the Kansas City lead. Greg Allen led off the third with a single, stole second (a legitimate feat against Perez) and scored on a Brantley single in the third.
Yonder Alonso led off the fourth with a home run. Not the last time we’ll hear from him. Not long after that, Kauffman Stadium began taking on water—pipes burst, the game was halted and a metaphor for 2018 Kansas City baseball was born.
From Kansas City’s perspective Ryan O’Hearn, trying his little heart out, doubled with two outs in the fourth. LOL, that’s adorable. Brett Phillips walked to lead off the fifth and even moved to third on a Gordon single. You could’ve guessed the outcome even if I hadn’t already told you. And if you think this paragraph reads a little bitter now, you should’ve seen it before the O’Hearn/Dozier theatrics.
After 96 pitches and five innings, Keller was cooked. Brian Flynn replaced him and didn’t give up a hit.
Kevin McCarthy replaced Flynn after an inning, gave up a leadoff single to Gomes (Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!)… and induced a double play by Allen and struck out Lindor.
What many assumed was the death knell occurred in the eighth. Enter Brandon Maurer, cue sadness. After Ramirez singled with one out—an out procured on a diving stab by Gordon to rob Brantley of a hit—Alonso walloped his second homer of the night to put the Indians up a run. The Royals went quietly in the eighth and the usual story—starter pitches fine, offense gets a lead, bullpen blows sky-high late—was already writing itself.
Not this time. Cleveland closer Cody Allen threw O’Hearn a first-pitch fastball up and away and the lefty walloped it into the left field bullpen. Tie game. Bedlam.
Three pitches later, Dozier extended on a fastball on the outside corner. Home run. Oppo taco. Walk off. What comes after bedlam? Pandemonium? That’s what fans were treated to. That, and a dual Salvy Splash.
Your Unusually Happy (and Shockingly Unexpected) Tweet of the Game
The #Royals did a thing that was good!
— Steven G (@KCteven) August 25, 2018
The Bright Spot: For the season, back-to-back jacks to walk it off and beat Cleveland is gonna be tough to beat as a bright spot.
The Nadir: Chance No. 71 for Maurer. At this point, Ned Yost is a bad gambler—come on, just let me put another $500 on the table, I can feel a heater coming!
The Next Step: Bold—and destined to be wrong—prediction: the Royals and Heath Fillmyer beat the Indians and Corey Kluber tomorrow (6:15 p.m. CT). If you saw Cleveland’s dugout in the aftermath of tonight’s festivities, they were shook. Please don’t remind me of this when they win 19-3 tomorrow.