At the conclusion of a long trip, most players are eager to play that last game and head for the comforts of home.
Salvador Perez probably is the exception — at least on the Kansas City Royals’ roster as the team winds up a nine-game trek.
Perez will step to the plate in Sunday’s final game of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins as the all-time home-run leader among visiting players in the history of Target Field in Minneapolis. His record-breaking 18th home run was a 434-foot blast to the third deck in right center on Saturday. He’s also hitting .329 with a 50 RBIs in 68 career games at the Twins’ home park.
“Because he’s a good hitter,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny quipped after the game when asked why Perez hits so well at Target Field. “That’s amazing how far he hit that ball. This is a big yard. For it to go as high as it did, that’s rarified air.
“He just continues to impress me. He uses his lower half so well. He so strong. He’s not trying to dead-yank everything. To have that kind of carry in right-center is very unique.”
The Royals will try to win their fifth series of the season — they have three splits and one losing series — after an 11-3 victory on Saturday.
The pitching matchup will be a pair of hurlers with 2-2 records, but that’s about the only similarity. The Twins will send Jose Berrios against the Royals’ Brad Keller. Berrios carries a 3.04 ERA and has struck out 33 in 26 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Keller has an ERA of 9.00 and has almost as many walks (11) as strikeouts (13). He’s lasted more than 3 1/3 innings in just two of his five starts.
Berrios allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings at Cleveland in his most recent start. He was in line for the win, but the bullpen let it get away — a recurring theme on the season for the Twins.
Berrios will hope that Alex Kirilloff continues his hot series against the Royals. Kirilloff hit his first two career home runs in Friday night’s 9-1 victory. He followed that with a home run off Danny Duffy, only the second earned run Duffy has allowed in 30 innings this season. All three of Kirilloff’s home runs were to left center.
Kirilloff, who had been struggling, became the first Twins player to hit his first two career home runs in the same game since 1994. He came into Friday’s game with a batting average of .115, even though Statcast projected his batting average should have been .299 based on his quality of contact. His slugging percentage was .154, much worse than his expected slugging percentage of .611.
“It was really nice,” Kirilloff said of finally getting in the home-run ledger Friday. “It was definitely relieving. It’s just baseball sometimes. You hope they even out over the course of a long season, but it’s definitely relieving to see some go over the fence.”
–Field Level Media
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