MINNEAPOLIS — Down six runs in the eighth inning, the few remaining fans at Target Field wanted a curtain call from Brian Dozier. And after hitting his third homer of the game, he was encouraged to take it by Twins manager Paul Molitor.
“It was kind of awkward. I really didn’t know what to do,” Dozier said. “But at the same time, it sinks in that, ‘Hey, even if you’re on the losing side of it, we’ve got loyal fans that pay good money to come watch us play.’ To show them the respect with the curtain call. Mollie said to get out there.”
Dozier became the sixth Minnesota player to hit three home runs in a game, and the first to do it at home, in an 11-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Dozier homered into the bleachers on the first pitch from Ian Kennedy (10-9), then hit a two-run shot to the second deck in the third and a solo drive into the upper deck in the eighth.
“It’s amazing to watch,” said Eric Hosmer, who homered for Kansas City. “I think we can all appreciate the third one a little more because we were up by a little bit and it wasn’t as close of a game. You’re talking about a guy who plays the game the right way every single day. . You saw the talent in him, you saw the tools and he’s certainly figured out how to put them together the past couple of years.”
Dozier has eight home runs in seven games and 38 this season, the most by a Twins player since Harmon Killebrew hit 41 in 1970. Dozier’s 10 home runs against Kansas City this year are the most ever by a Royals opponent.
Yet it’s been hard to enjoy personal success on a team that has the worst record in the majors.
“I hate losing more than anything,” said. “It tastes a lot better at the end of the day when you go home and have a cold one and you knew you won.”
Dozier has hit a majors-most 24 home runs since the All-Star break. He’s connected 36 times as a second baseman and twice as a designated hitter. The AL record for homers in a season by a second baseman is 39 by Alfonso Soriano in 2002 for the Yankees.
Dozier became the second Twins player with a three-homer game this year. Rookie Max Kepler did it at Cleveland.
Kendrys Morales hit a three-run drive off Jose Berrios (2-5) in the fifth for a 5-4 lead. Hosmer, who had four RBIs, hit a three-run homer in the eighth.
Berrios was called up from Triple-A to start. The Royals tagged him for five earned runs on nine hits in five innings.
Considered the Twins’ top pitching prospect, Berrios allowed 21 earned runs in 22 innings over five August starts before being sent down.
“Too many ball ones, pitching from behind. He had to pay the price for that along the way,” Molitor said. “You got a chance there with two outs in the fifth to hold on, and got a changeup he left up to Morales. That kind of changed the direction of the game.”
Royals: OF Lorenzo Cain missed his fifth straight game because of left wrist inflammation. He was allowed to swing a bat Monday and remains day to day.
Twins: Kepler got the day off. Kepler, who leads AL rookies in home runs (16), RBIs (59) and walks (37), has played in all but one game since July 28. He struck out five times Sunday. “We talk about young players and the challenge of playing September baseball for the first time,” Molitor said. “We’ll try to keep them fresh as we can.”
Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.33) is scheduled to start for Kansas City on Tuesday against Ervin Santana (7-10, 3.54). Gee was 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in five August starts and pitched an inning of relief Friday. Santana is 3-1 in his last five starts with a 3.09 ERA.