Salvy notches 1,000th hit on 4-for-4 night

'Super proud' catcher becomes 13th player to record milestone for Royals

April 13th, 2021

The milestone crept closer every time came to the plate.

Perez knocked four hits in the Royals’ 10-3 loss to the Angels Monday night at Kauffman Stadium, but none was bigger than his third. It was career hit No. 1,000 for the longtime Royals catcher, and when he learned of his achievement, he couldn’t help but feel a rush of pride.

“As soon as I hit it, I wanted to score points and put a run on the board for us and all that,” Perez said. “But when I looked at the scoreboard, they showed it there, so it was a pretty good moment for me.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing. The bad thing is we lost, but it’s something that I’ll never forget -- 1,000 hits, a lot of years in the big leagues. I always thought about it when I grew up, now to be the player I’m at right now. I’m super proud of myself.”

With one out and two runners on base in the sixth inning, the Royals had their first real opportunity against Angels starter Alex Cobb, who had 10 strikeouts entering the sixth inning and had thrown just 65 pitches, baffling Royals hitters with his splitter.

The Royals made him throw 32 pitches to get two outs in the sixth, and eight of those were to Perez, who fouled off four splitters and took two for balls before ripping the sixth one he saw into left field to give the Royals their first run of the night.

Perez is the 13th player to record 1,000 hits in a Royals uniform.

“It gave me chills when I saw it,” Royals starter Brady Singer said. “He’s exactly what being a Royal represents. Could not be happier he’s on our team. He’s an incredible leader, and he helps me out tremendously. He’s a guy you want in the clubhouse. He means the world to me, and to see that, it was incredible.”

The only thing that spoiled Perez’s milestone night was the Royals’ ugly loss to open the three-game series. Three of the 10 runs the Angels scored were unearned, with two in the first inning on wild throws by center fielder Michael A. Taylor to third base and Singer to home. In the fifth inning, Singer got the ground ball he wanted against designated hitter Shohei Ohtani with two outs and runners on the corners, but shortstop Nicky Lopez couldn’t field it cleanly and saw a run score. The Royals ran into bad-luck defense all night, with close misses in the outfield on right fielder Kyle Isbel and left fielder Andrew Benintendi.

The offensive life that Perez and Jorge Soler -- who snapped a seven-strikeout streak with a two-run single -- breathed into the Royals in the three-run sixth was deflated when three Royals relievers were needed to get through the seventh as the Angels widened their lead to four. The game unraveled in the ninth with another three runs.

“That takes the wind out of you,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Especially one where we’ve been suppressed the entire game offensively, and then to throw something together to where we get back within one, that’s a great opportunity for us to go to some of our big leverage arms in the pen. ...But it just didn’t work out like we wanted it to today.”

Yet Perez’s offense remained a bright spot. He added another hit in the eighth for his seventh career four-hit game.

For those counting, that’s 1,001 career hits for him.

Every one has come with Royals splashed across his chest, starting with his first on Aug. 10, 2011, in his Major League debut against Tampa Bay -- and future teammate Wade Davis.

“I didn’t know that we were going to be here after 11 seasons the day I got called up,” Perez, who signed a four-year contract extension in Spring Training, said. “You guys know how crazy all this is, but I plan to stay here. I just want to finish my career here. I’m a Royal forever. I’m excited to be here.”

Perez has grown from a young infielder the Royals signed in 2006 out of Venezuela to one of the best catchers in the Majors. His name is etched in Royals history: In 2015, he was named the World Series MVP after leading Kansas City to its first World Series title in 30 years. His four homers that postseason are tied for second most by a catcher in a single postseason. He collected the third walk-off hit in Royals’ postseason history with a game-winning RBI single in the 12th inning of the 2014 Wild Card Game.

Perez wants to get back to October with the Royals -- and soon. To get there, the Royals know they can’t have games like Monday night, with defensive miscues, the bullpen unraveling like it did and the offense not being able to catch up after the sixth inning.

But they will continue to depend on Perez -- not only on his offense, but also his leadership behind the plate and in the clubhouse.

“Everybody wants to win a Gold Glove, go to the All-Star Game, win a Silver Slugger,” Perez said. “But I think the more important thing is to be back in the playoffs with all these guys. I can leave all three things on the table just to make the playoffs.”