Hunter Dozier has had a rough start to begin the season for the KC Royals. He’s slashing .139/.205/.328 with a .555 OPS and -0.6 WAR, not to mention his scary collision with Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox earlier this month which sidelined him with a concussion, quad contusion and neck discomfort.
Despite all that, Dozier may finally be turning things around after his almost two-week stint on the Injured List.
In his return to the lineup Friday night against the Minnesota Twins, Dozier walked and singled, leading him to score two of the eight runs in the Royals’ 8-3 win. Although he didn’t contribute much Saturday (he struck out twice), Dozier proved himself again in Sunday’s 6-3 win at Minnesota.
During Kansas City’s four-run spurt in the top of the fifth inning, Dozier drove in Edward Olivares with a fielder’s choice, then scored on Whit Merrifield’s single. Not finished for the day, Dozier blasted a 394-foot solo home run in the top of the ninth to make it 6-3 and give the Royals some much-needed insurance:
Considering his slow start to begin the season, Dozier’s contribution on Friday, and Sunday’s run-scoring grounder and home run late in the game, could prove to be a potential confidence-builder for the slumping player.
The KC Royals’ bullpen shut down the Minnesota Twins without allowing a hit.
Brad Keller, who pitched so well against Tampa Bay Tuesday night, had another decent start Sunday, holding the Twins to three runs in five innings and striking out six batters. But the Kansas City bullpen provided a gem.
Kyle Zimmer came on for Keller in the sixth inning and retired the side in order. He had a bit of trouble in the seventh on Jorge Polanco’s and Alex Kirilloff’s walks, but he held the runners on first and second base before striking out the last two batters. Zimmer’s 2.37 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 19 innings this season are reflective of how he locked down the Minnesota bats.
Scott Barlow also got out of a jam—he hit Trevor Larnach and walked Mitch Garver before getting the last two outs in the eighth inning. And Greg Holland was spectacular, getting the last three outs of the game on 13 pitches to seal the KC victory and a series win over the Twins.
None of the KC relievers gave up a hit.
Kansas City’s pitching has had its share of trouble this season with a 4.38 team ERA, and its 202 walks are the second most in the American League. However, the bullpen being able to get out of a few jams without allowing a hit like it did Sunday may be indicative of a potential turnaround, just like Dozier’s recent efforts may suggest better days for himself.
Hunter Dozier and the bullpen played big roles in the KC Royals’ win Sunday. Here’s hoping they continue to make key contributions.