KANSAS CITY — On Aug. 10, 2011, Salvador Perez arrived with authority in his Major League debut, collecting his first hit and RBI while picking off two runners against Tampa Bay.
Ten years later, he’s still making a splash.
The veteran catcher homered twice during a three-hit night in the Royals’ 8-4 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. Not only did the night commemorate Perez’s anniversary, the homers were his 28th and 29th of the season — a career best after two seasons (2017 and ’18) of 27 homers.
One night after a wild, back-and-forth, 11-inning Royals loss in the opener, the clubs traded runs throughout Tuesday night before Kansas City went ahead for good in the sixth.
Perez kicked off his anniversary game with a first-pitch homer in the first inning — a projected 418-foot shot into the fountains at The K. His second round-tripper off Yankees starter Nestor Cortes came shortly after Perez needed trainer Nick Kenny to help him get something out of his eye in the top of the sixth inning.
Perez saw the curveball Cortes threw him to lead off the bottom of the frame just fine, belting a moonshot into the Yankees’ bullpen to tie the game before the Royals went ahead for good on Hunter Dozier’s double. Tuesday was Perez’s 10th multi-homer game in his career — on the 10-year anniversary of his debut — and fourth this season.
The offense backed up Daniel Lynch’s 4 2/3-inning start in which he threw 100 pitches but struck out six. Reliever Josh Staumont was filthy for 1 1/3 innings, needing just 15 pitches (11 strikes), and Wade Davis and Scott Barlow locked it down in the eighth and ninth with back-to-back nine-pitch frames.
Perez has been one of the Royals’ most dangerous hitters for a decade and their savvy leader behind the plate, first guiding Kansas City to back-to-back World Series trips and now through a rebuild with talented young pitchers establishing themselves in the Majors this season. And he wants to be a Royal for life. Perez signed a $82 million extension in the spring that will keep him in Kansas City through at least 2025 with a club option for ’26.
The seven-time All-Star debuted at 21 years old and seems to keep getting better at 31. The homers also put him at 72 RBIs this season, eight shy of matching his career high (80 in 2017 and ’18).
Perez missed his first game of the season on Friday — 107 games into the regular season — in St. Louis because of a non-COVID illness, and despite slotting back into the lineup the next night, he hadn’t been feeling well since. He still managed to be productive: On Monday against the Yankees, Perez was on base four times with a single, two walks and a hit-by-pitch.