Perez singles, catches Mariano in his final All-Star Game at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- Salvador Perez only took one swing on Tuesday night, but that lone cut made some Royals history.
The catcher drilled the only pitch he saw down the right-field line for a single to lead off the eighth inning in the All-Star Game at Citi Field, marking the first hit for a Royals player in the Midsummer Classic since Bo Jackson went 2-for-4, including a mammoth homer, in 1989.
"I'm so happy. That's the only thing I can say," said Perez, who also caught the All-Star finale for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the American League's 3-0 win. "I'm so happy for my family, too, to be here to see that. It feels great."
In the half-inning before, Royals closer Greg Holland jogged onto the field and began throwing some warmup pitches to Perez as Alex Gordon watched from left field. It was the first time since 1988 that Kansas City had three representatives at the All-Star Game. And all three entered the game at the same time.
The trio performed well in playing a role for the AL's first All-Star victory since 2009.
"It was fun. Being my first one, I didn't know what to expect," Gordon said. "It was great to share with all these great players and my teammates, too. We had a blast."
Perez came around to score on Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis' two-out double to left field to give the AL a 3-0 lead. He was also behind the plate for Rivera's perfect eighth inning and embraced the future Hall of Fame relief pitcher as he walked off the field.
"I just said to him, 'I just feel so happy to catch him the last All-Star Game.' That means a lot to me," Perez said. "He tells me, 'You go have more All-Star Games.' That's why we're here, to be in the history of baseball."
Gordon also played a part in that inning, tracking down a hard line drive from Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig and making a catch near the warning track in left field.
"I was really going to do everything to catch that ball. I was diving, I was doing anything. I was happy it went in my glove," Gordon said. "I was happy to be out there with [Rivera], and I shook his hand and told him it was an honor."
Gordon had his only at-bat of the game in the ninth inning, hitting a deep fly ball that took Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen all the way to the warning track a few feet in front of the 408-foot sign for the frame's final out.
"I thought I had it," Gordon said. "I hit it to the wrong part of the park, I guess. It would have been nice if there was less than two outs, but it was a good at-bat, so I'm happy with it."
Holland's stay in the game was a short one. He got Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to ground out to third base for the first out in the seventh inning before being removed from the game after Mets third baseman David Wright's single to Gordon in left field.
The right-hander threw just six pitches in the game, but that was all Holland needed to enjoy his first All-Star appearance.
"To get in the game was incredible," Holland said. "To get in the game and pitch, and help hand the ball to Mo in the eighth inning, that was really a treat. That was something, you know ... you're never going to forget that."
Holland said he's usually a guy that looks at the game pitch by pitch, but even he got wrapped up in the moment. For him and his Royals teammates, it's likely an experience they'll never forget.
"It's really hard to describe, because I've always been somebody who didn't really try to get wrapped in what was going on, because you lose focus that way," Holland said. "Now that it's over and looking back on it, it's just been unbelievable."