SAN FRANCISCO – Royals catcher Salvador Perez has done plenty in this World Series to garner the spotlight.
He got in a shouting match with Giants reliever Hunter Strickland in Game 2. His quirkiness has caught the attention of the national media, or perhaps you weren’t aware of his affinity for wearing cologne behind the plate?
As it turns out, Perez’s play alone is enough to get people talking.
He made a couple standout plays in Kansas City’s 3-2 Game 3 victory over the Giants on Friday. It was part of an excellent overall defensive effort from the Royals in the kind of game where every play that is – or isn’t – made can be the difference.
Perez nailed Hunter Pence trying to steal second base in the top of the second, showing a quick release and firing an on-the-money throw to the bag. He made an even more impressive play in the eighth, springing out from behind the plate to field Gregor Blanco’s bunt and snapping a throw to first that narrowly beat Blanco’s head-first slide.
It was impressive agility from a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who already owns a Gold Glove at age 24. His counterpart in the opposing dugout couldn’t help but be impressed.
“He can really move,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “And he’s caught a lot of games this year, too. So yeah, he’s a good one. … Really good.”
Perez is a ringleader in a Royals clubhouse that doesn’t lack for colorful personalities. Last year, teammate Alcides Escobar sprayed him with some Victoria’s Secret perfume and Perez had a four-hit game. The practice continues this season, though Perez has switched to cologne.
At any rate, the fun-loving Royals were all business Friday in taking the inside track in this best-of-seven series. They came through with key hits. They got the lockdown bullpen work everybody expects. And they shined with the glove.
Manager Ned Yost inserted Jarrod Dyson in center and shifted Lorenzo Cain to right field in place of Nori Aoki, opting for his fastest and most sure-handed defense. Cain made it pay off by leaving his feet for two terrific catches.
He ended the first by making a sliding catch on Posey’s difficult, slicing line drive. Then Cain provided an encore to end the very next inning, when he made a diving effort on Travis Ishikawa’s sinking liner and plucked it just inches off the outfield grass.
“I’m just upset that he didn’t get (nominated for) the Gold Glove,” Dyson said. “He’s been playing Gold Glove defense all year.”
The Royals got a solid starting effort from right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who gave up two runs on four hits in five-plus innings. But the former Stanford star had help.
In the fifth, the Giants smoked back-to-back line drives. But second baseman Omar Infante was positioned perfectly each time. First he snared Hunter Pence’s liner and then, with Kansas City playing a shift, he was in the right spot to snag Brandon Belt’s hard shot.
It all came together nicely for the Royals on Friday as they claimed a 2-1 Series advantage.
“This was definitely a statement game,” Cain said. “As a team we stepped up and got the job done. We just gotta keep fighting (Saturday) and find a way to get a win as well.”