The Salvy Show powers the way

Perez hits 47. Benintendi powers the offense early and Lopez brings it home late as the top of the order continues to produce. The bullpen comes up huge when Singer falls short.

For a September game between a pair of teams that have nothing to play for, Tuesday night’s homestand lid-lifter for the Royals packed some kind of excitement. It’s cliché to be sure, but there’s some fight in this team and that makes for a compelling evening of baseball. Down 3-0 before they came to bat, the Royals rallied, powered by their two offensive stars and a lockdown bullpen, to take a 6-4 victory over Cleveland.

Let’s just cut to the chase in today’s edition.

Did Salvy hit a home run?

Uh-huh…he sure did.

Measured at 108 mph off the bat, it landed an estimated 429 feet from home plate. It reached the Royals Hall of Fame, a place where Perez will make his home shortly after his retirement from this game. Retirement? That is but a thought for the future. This is the present. And the present is an unrelenting assault on the Royals’ record book.

Forty-seven.

Look at this swing and the reaction of a man who knows he just did violence against a baseball.

Salvy has blasted 47 home runs this year. One shy of Jorge Soler’s club record. A solo shot, it broke a 3-3 deadlock and was the 17th time a Perez dinger gave the Royals a lead.

And then there was this…

The curtain call is one of the most underrated celebrations in baseball. It hardly ever seemed to happen when the Royals were winning in ’14 and ’15. But it’s really the perfect moment where the stadium elevates and wraps a player in a sonic embrace. Something like that, that kind of adoration, doesn’t happen to every player. It’s reserved for the players who mean something. George Brett took myriad curtain calls. Frank White. I remember Amos Otis begrudgingly coming to the top step on occasion. For Perez to get a curtain call…that means something.

Perez is everything to this city and to this franchise. And it’s always been clear this city and organization mean everything to Perez. He was sworn in as a United States citizen at Royals Fan Fest for crying out loud. The love is mutual. The love is deep. I know Greg Holland is back and Wade Davis was around for most of this year, but now that Danny Duffy is gone, Salvy is the last remaining Royal from those championship teams. He is the franchise. That curtain call was the ultimate moment. Clearly the highlight of the 2021 season.

Hey, it’s not all about the dingers. How about a hustle double from Perez in the third.

For real. This is a catcher who has played in 156 games this year. His team was essentially eliminated before the All-Star break. He doesn’t need to be doing that. Yet there he is, pulling a page from the Whit Merrifield/Nicky Lopez playbook, out there busting his ass to take the extra base. And then he tags up not once, but twice to score the tying run on two fly outs. He scored three of the Royals’ six runs on the night.

Also! Check out the location of that pitch. He hit it off the end of the bat and still muscled it to center at 102 mph. Goodness.

He’s a machine.

More Salvy dinger facts

I hope you need more Salvy in this newsletter.

From Dave Holtzman of Bally Sports and the Royals PR department:

  • His 32 home runs as a catcher are three behind Ivan Rodriguez for the American League record.

  • Tuesday’s dinger was his 26th at The K this year, a team record. And an amazing total for this ballpark.

  • The home run broke a six-game homer-less streak. It was the longest he had gone without hitting a tater since just after the All-Star break.

Finally, let’s check the current AL leaderboards.

Perez’s RBI total is currently tied for the fifth-best in franchise history. George Brett in 1980 and Jermaine Dye in 2000 finished with 118 RBI. With one more runner brought home, Perez will be tied for the third-best single-season total in franchise history.

One more home run fact…Perez’s next dinger (assuming he hits one in the season’s final five games) will not only tie the Royals’ single-season record, but it will also be the 200th of his career.

First inning woes escalate

It was an all too familiar start to the game. With Brady Singer on the mound, Cleveland opened with a double, a walk and back to back singles.

As I did with Jackson Kowar’s first inning struggles in yesterday’s edition, this is the pitch chart for everything Singer threw in the first.

Wild that for pitches in the zone (and there were only five), four were put in play. I’ve been thinking a bit about what Kowar said in his post-game press conference on Monday about wanting to work on the edges. With his limited, two-pitch arsenal Singer needs to do that as well. He was there on a couple of offerings, but was mostly well off the plate.

But the true plot twist in this outing came following this slider to Bradley Zimmer.

After this, Whit Merrifield motioned to the dugout that something was wrong. Perez seemed to notice as well and did the same thing. (It’s wild to me that baseball players can notice the smallest of irregularities.) With trainer Nick Kenney and manager Mike Matheny on the mound, you could see Singer making his case, but Merrifield was lurking in the background shaking his head no. And just like that, after 18 pitches, his night—and most likely his season—was done.

The Royals announced during the game that Singer exited with upper right arm discomfort. After the game, Matheny and Singer both said Singer felt something “grab” after that slider to Zimmer. Singer’s meetings with the press after his starts are a masterclass in vagueness.

Question: Can you describe just what you felt there on that last pitch and if there was something leading up to that?

Answer: Yeah. Not much…not much leading up to it. I think I threw a few sliders to Zimmer there. The last one just got me. Grabbed there kind of in the middle part of my arm. You know, starting to feel better and not overly concerned about it.

Question: When you say ‘middle’ is that more like a bicep/tricep sort of thing?

Answer: Yeah, more around the bicep/tricep area.

Yep…that’s the pesky old right upper arm discomfort. Matheny mentioned Singer had gone for a scan of the shoulder and elbow area and both came back clean. So let’s just settle on that wide-ranging bicep/tricep area as to where Singer felt the grab. At least it’s not a potentially serious injury. As far as we know at this point.

It’s been a season of hard knocks for Singer…more downs than ups and one that included a previous stint on the IL with what was termed shoulder fatigue. He remains a candidate for a spot in the rotation for next season, but competition will be fierce. If anything, 2021 served notice that he will have to step up his game if he’s to stick in a starting role.

Nicky Lopez, Professional Hitter

In the latest edition of this section of the newsletter, it was Lopez who provided the go-ahead run in the eighth.

With Merrifield off and running on the 3-2 pitch, he scored easily. Lopez ends up at third on his fifth triple of the season on an elevated cutter just a bit to the outer half of the plate. I can’t stop watching this gif for the location of the pitch and what Lopez did to it. It was the perfect swing in that situation. Again…Professional Hitter.

Lopez scored an insurance run, crossing the plate on a wild pitch with Perez up to bat.

Benny bashing

With Perez’s assault on the Royals’ single-season record books and with Lopez doing all sorts of stellar things at the plate and in the field, lost a bit in the hoopla is the fine close to the season Andrew Benintendi is having. His home run in the first was his 13th extra-base hit in September and his 27 RBI in the month.

This swing is quick, handsome and quite violent.

That’s a pitch that Benny does not get around on in the season’s first half. That he’s driving an offering in that location is extremely encouraging. It left the bat at 106 mph, the fourth-hardest hit ball of his 2021 season, all of which have come in this month.

Just a fantastic finish to the season. Amazing what he can do when he’s fully healthy.

The bullpen shoves

A brief tip of the cap to the Royals’ bullpen corps. Summoned in the first inning six relievers combined for 8.1 innings of six-hit baseball. They walked three and struck out five in limiting Cleveland to just a single run. The Royals don’t come back and win if the bullpen can’t keep the game under control.

Ervin Santana danced around danger. Dylan Coleman threw gas. Josh Staumont slammed the door.

Hernández shut down—sort of

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Royals announced that Carlos Hernández will not make another start this year. He will be available out of the bullpen. I would assume in an emergency situation when the Royals are running out of arms. Which, given the parade of relievers required on Tuesday, could happen soon.

It’s a smart move. Hernández pitched like a tired starter in his last couple of outings. He threw 112 innings this year. His previous career-high was 79.1 as a 21-year-old in Single-A in 2018. With the minor leagues shut down last year, he only pitched 14.2 competitive innings, although he did get some reps in at the alternate site.

What Hernández did do this year, was establish himself as a bonafide candidate to start. His stuff was absolutely electric at times. He walked a few too many hitters and didn’t miss the number of bats you would think someone with his stuff would miss. But you can’t ignore the potential. With a little seasoning, it sure seems like he’s a guy who can be a factor in the rotation for the next several years.

Up next

The Salvy dinger watch continues on Wednesday with Daniel Lynch getting the start against Zach Plesac. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10.