Salvy takes MLB HR lead, gets curtain call

KANSAS CITY — Salvador Perez‘s 47th home run of the season traveled 429 feet, landing — perhaps fittingly — in front of the Royals Hall of Fame in the bottom of the sixth inning on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

It proved to be a crucial run in the Royals’ 6-4 victory over the Indians in the first game of the final homestand of 2021 — a game ultimately won on Nicky Lopez’s RBI triple in the eighth inning — and it was capped with a curtain call for the Kansas City catcher making and still chasing history this season.

After Perez celebrated his Major League-leading home run with his teammates in the dugout, the fans at The K were still on their feet. So Perez popped out onto the warning track dirt, tipped his helmet and pumped his fists to those giving him a standing ovation.

With how much Perez means to the Kansas City organization and how much the community means to the All-Star backstop, it was perhaps the perfect way to celebrate the kind of season Perez is having at the plate.

His 47 home runs are one shy of the Royals’ single-season home run record, set by Jorge Soler in 2019. And they are atop the Major League home run leaderboard, one ahead of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and two ahead of Shohei Ohtani.

Perez is one of the more dangerous home run hitters in the game, but his power wasn’t the only thing on display. When the Royals trailed, 3-0, after the top of the first inning — after Brady Singer exited with upper right arm discomfort — Perez walked to put a runner on for Andrew Benintendi, who hammered a two-run home run and cut the deficit to one.

Then in the fourth, Perez manufactured the tying run with his legs. He hustled out a double to center field, went to third on Benintendi’s fly ball to right field and scored on Carlos Santana’s sacrifice fly.

Perez struck out swinging in his final at-bat of the night, but the Royals had already scored two, when Lopez worked a 3-2 count against reliever Bryan Shaw before ripping an opposite-field triple, scoring Whit Merrifield. Then, Lopez came home on a wild pitch to seal the victory.