Ryan O"hearn

RECAP: Salvy swats, bullpen shoves… doesn’t matter

I don’t think we’re making enough of a big deal about Salvador Perez’s second half.

I’m going to do something I love to do, and that’s link back to something I wrote that was actually correct. And then I’m going to explain why I was wrong, which you should all be more accustomed to.

I pegged Salvy as a bounce-back candidate for a strong second half, noting that once Mike Moustakas and anyone else resembling a professional hitter was dealt, opponents would have no incentive to pitch to him, so his on-base percentage should climb and he would make better contact and generally settle into slightly above league-average.

And I was right! His OBP has climbed 20 points to a still-miserable .273. His OPS is a heartbeat from .700. his batting average is up to .237—again, not great, but he was hitting less than .210 on July 3.

But what I didn’t realize is that we’d go from, “I dunno if Salvador Perez is a worthy All-Star this year,” to “I don’t know how you could give the American League Silver Slugger Award to any catcher other than Salvador Perez,” quite so briskly.

Yet after Sal slammed two homers in the Royals 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays, that’s just about where we’re at.

Yes, this was an excuse to chew up 250 words of this recap on one player and link to my own work, because I am a self-serving millennial, but also just to call attention to it. Some nights, Salvador Perez is the whole offense. So it was on this night, it just wasn’t quite enough.

The Sheriff started the ball rolling with a two-run bomb in the first inning, scoring Whit Merrifield following his leadoff walk. And even when Kevin Pillar’s single in the second to score Teoscar Hernandez, who led off the inning with a double, halved the Royals lead, there was no reason for alarm quite yet.

That’s because Jorge Lopez’s first start, for at least the first few innings, was pretty good. Easy-peasy in the first, brief hiccup in the second, needed a Brett Phillips laser show in the third to cut down Richard Urena trying to score on a Randal Grichuk single but otherwise flashing mid-90s heat and half-decent location, which passes for borderline amazing around these parts.

And then the fourth inning.

Hernandez rapped a first-pitch single to open the frame. Lopez’s second offering to Russell Martin hit him. Pillar blooped in a single to score Hernandez on his second offering. Aledmys Diaz then loaded the sacks back up with an 0-1 single.

If you’re counting, that’s seven pitches, three hits, four baserunners and one run. Still nobody out. Time to see what you’ve got, Guy Included in the Moustakas Trade.

Lopez struck out a flailing Luke Maile on a 2-2 curve, then induced a pop out in foul territory by Urena. Hey, that’s pretty good! One well-placed pitch from getting out of the mess with a tie game.

And then Curtis Granderson clubbed a waist-high fastball into the right-field bullpen. Tie game, meet four-run deficit.

Salvy answered in the home half with a solo swat, his second of the game, but if you’re reading this, you probably follow the Royals and you know what happened from here. Lopez was removed after walking Martin and Pillar with two down in the fourth; he needed 88 pitches to get 14 outs, so he fits right in with this rotation already. New tonight was 2.1 innings scoreless long work by Burch Smith, although he did load the bases in the sixth—in fact, Smith, Tim Hill and Jason Hammel scattered two hits and two walks over the final 4.1 innings.

In the seventh, Phillips legged out a triple and scored when Alcides Escobar dumped a single into center. In the ninth, pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn clubbed a monster homer into the night to bring the Royals within a run, but Phillips popped out and Escobar (how does this dude’s number always get called when it’s close and late?) struck out on three pitches. The record is [Rustin Dodd electrocutes my nipples with a car battery].

Your Tweet of Despair

The Bright Spot: As crappy as the Royals have been this year, THEY haven’t thrown at any young and awesome players recently to my knowledge, although they play in the AL Central so unless they’re facing the Indians, young and awesome players are hard to come by.

The Nadir: Non-Salvy, non-O’Hearn Royals went 3-for-28 with five strike outs, which’ll usually lose you ballgames.

The Next Step: Glenn Sparkman gets his first career start in the stead of Danny Duffy to close out the series against Sam Givgilio, 7:15 p.m. (CT), Thursday. A win and the Royals finish the homestand 3-7!

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