Royals catcher belts decisive homer to cap late-inning comeback
By Scott Chasen
KANSAS CITY -- As Royals catcher Salvador Perez stood on the field following a 3-2 win over the Indians on Tuesday night, he knew what was coming.
After all, it's usually Perez who carries out the Royals' postgame tradition of dumping a bucket of Gatorade on the player of the game following a victory. This time, however, that player was Perez, who smacked a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth that moved the Royals just one game back of the first-place Indians.
As Perez started his postgame interview, he leered back toward the bullpen, where Royals catcher Drew Butera emerged, Gatorade bucket in-hand. Butera tried to be inconspicuous, as several of the team's pitchers walked in front of him, blocking the bright orange bucket from view.
"The bullpen did a 'flying V sneak attack,'" Butera said.
But as the pitchers scattered to make way for Butera, Perez was too quick. He pulled FOX Sports broadcaster Joel Goldberg in front of him as a human shield, avoiding the brunt of the shower.
For Perez, dodging the Gatorade was the perfect end to what had been a near perfect week. Over the last seven days, Perez logged 12 hits, but perhaps none bigger than the go-ahead home run that gave the Royals a fourth straight win after dropping eight in a row.
With the Royals down, 2-1, with just four outs left to go against the AL Central leaders, Perez stepped to the plate with first baseman Eric Hosmer at first and two out. Perez drove the first pitch he saw from reliever Bryan Shaw over the wall in left-center field.
"He got a cutter and he barreled it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I had a really good feeling about Sal coming up there and doing something special. And he did."
And for Perez, there was no doubt. The second the bat made contact, it was over.
"Yeah. I hit it pretty good," Perez said.
Perez went 2-for-4 on the night, staying right at .500 over his last six games. In that stretch, he's belted three home runs. He's also provided some timely hitting, as his second homer in that span was a late-inning solo blast that gave the Royals an insurance run in their 3-1 win over the White Sox on Sunday.
But during the hot streak, Perez said he's doing nothing different. He's said he's trying to see the ball and use his power when the opportunity presents itself. As for the Royals and the late comeback:
"We like to compete. We never quit," Perez said. "When you play hard, you see [good] things happen."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.