CLEVELAND (AP) — Salvador Perez hit his 46th home run, breaking Johnny Bench’s record for most by a catcher in a season to highlight the opener, then the Kansas City Royals completed a doubleheader sweep by beating the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Monday night.
Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning of a 7-2 win, topping Bench’s total from 1970 for the highest total by a player who spent at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.
Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Perez leads the majors with 115 RBIs.
“I had never hit 30 in my career,” he said. “So I was looking for 30 homers and 100 RBIs. This is a dream come true.”
Perez’s career high in home runs was 27, which came in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Being in the same company with Bench is something else special for the 31-year-old Perez who has been a mainstay for the Royals since reaching the majors in 2011 .
“When you see a Hall of Fame catcher, you try to be just like him,” Perez said. “I’m going to try my best to be one of those guys.”
Royals manager Mike Matheny considered it an honor to witness the moment.
“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” Matheny said. “The long history in this game and how many great players have come through. For him to do something that nobody’s done, it’s amazing.”
In the second game, Perez hit an early double before striking out against Anthony Gose, a former outfielder who returned to the majors after a five-year absence as a hard-throwing reliever.
Gose pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing one run and one hit with one walk and one strikeout. Of his 39 pitches, seven reached 100 mph.
The 31-year-old Gose last played in the majors in 2016 with Detroit. He spent parts of five years with the Tigers and Toronto before becoming a a pitcher.
“It meant a lot to get the opportunity to go out there again. It’s been a while. I’m excited to be able to have the opportunity,” Gose said.
Joel Payamps, Domingo Tapia, Jake Brentz. Josh Statamount and Scott Barlow combined on a four-hitter in the second game. Tapia (3-0) struck out four in 1 2/3 innings and Barlow pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
The Royals scored twice off Nick Wittgren (2-8) in the first when Carlos Santana drew a bases-loaded walk and Hunter Dozier added a sacrifice fly.
Kansas City scored in the fourth off Gose on a double by Hanser Alberto and an RBI groundout by Sebastian Rivero.
Alberto added an RBI single in the sixth off Bryan Shaw.
Andrés Giménez and Bobby Bradley homered for Cleveland. The Indians were held to four runs in the two seven-inning games after scoring 11 runs on both Saturday and Sunday in wins over the New York Yankees.
Starting again behind the plate — Perez has seen some time at designated hitter, and started the second game at DH — the durable All-Star drove a 1-2 pitch from Triston McKenzie into the left field bleachers, a drive that traveled 429 feet.
Perez pointed to the sky after crossing home plate and was hugged by several teammates as he entered the dugout. He also singled in the first and made his presence known defensively when he threw out Myles Straw trying to steal second base.
“For a guy who’s so respected in this clubhouse, it was different than your normal home run,” Matheny said.
Said Cleveland interim manager DeMarlo Hale: “Perez is one of those rare individuals to find energy and passion just to keep playing.
“And the offensive year he’s having, it’s even more special. People don’t talk about him in the MVP race, but I’ll tell you what, he’s there in my book,” he said.
Dozier and Andrew Benintendi also hit two-run homers for the Royals in the opener. Dozier hit his 14th homer in the second and added an RBI single in the fourth. Benintendi hit his 16th homer in the fourth.
Brady Singer (5-10), activated from the COVID-19-related injured list before the game, allowed two runs in seven innings.
McKenzie (5-7) gave up all three home runs and allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.
José Ramírez, the current AL Player of the Week, had a two-run single for Cleveland in the fifth.
RHP Shane Bieber is expected to rejoin Cleveland’s rotation this week. The reigning AL Cy Young winner has been sidelined since June 13 with a strained shoulder. Bieber threw 57 pitches in 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Akron on Sunday.
Royals: RHP Brad Keller (strained right lat) and RHP Wade Davis (shoulder inflammation) were moved to the 60-day injured list.
Indians: OF Harold Ramirez injured his right shoulder when he ran into the right field wall at Yankee Stadium on Sunday and didn’t play in the doubleheader.
Royals: RHP Daniel Lynch (4-5. 5.34) was pulled from his last start against Oakland in the third inning because of left calf tightness. He gave up three runs (one earned) on two hits in two-plus innings.
Indians: RHP Cal Quantrill (6-3, 2.89) didn’t allow an earned run over 6 2/3 innings in his last start against Minnesota.
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