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Game CLIX: Royals v. Cleveland

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Salvy goes for the record

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

If I could travel back in time to August 10, 2011 and meander on up to the Royals front office as they waited to see their new catcher Salvador Perez play in his first career Major League game, I think I would ask a few questions.

I would start by asking what the odds were that he would ever hit more than 25 home runs in a season? Then I would ask what the odds were the he would do that multiple times? Then I would ask what the odds were that he would have a 50 home run season?

I suspect the odds would have started low and continued to get lower as I asked these questions. I would have sounded like a dreamer, too optimistic even for Dayton Moore’s front office.

Perez wasn’t even the best catcher in his own minor league system, an after thought until a strong 2010 bumped him onto everybody’s radar as a fringe prospect. And even that was almost completely because of his defense.

It’s been nearly 10 years to the day and for the next four days, Salvy will chase down 50. He needs one more home run to break the tie with Jorge Soler’s 48, set back in 2019. It would be the third time in five years that the franchise’s home run got broken after standing pat at a measly 36 for 32 years.

He needs two more to 31st player to ever hit at least 50 home runs in a season. No catcher has ever done it. Despite leaving with an ankle sprain last night after tying the record with a three-run homer in the 1st, he’s back in the lineup tonight at DH.

While all of our eyes will be on Salvy at the plate, rookie Angel Zerpa will surely miss his presence behind the plate. Zerpa will become yet another rookie pitcher to make his debut for Kansas City tonight after quickly rising through the Royals system.

He started the season in A+ ball before moving up to AA and eventually AAA for one start before getting the call. While he has moved through the system quickly, he hasn’t been all that effective, logging a 5.96 ERA in 13 AA starts and giving up three runs in just 1.1 IP in his only AAA start.

MLB Pipeline describes Zerpa as “natural strike-thrower”, which will be a refreshing change of pace on a team who leads the American League in walks. He’ll be opposed by Shane Bieber, making just his 2nd start since June 14 after missing time due to a right shoulder strain. He went 3.0 hittless innings in his return to action last week against the White Sox, striking out three in the process.

Here are your lineups for tonight’s matchup: