by John Viril—For many people, the story of Monday’s 3-1 home opening win was Ervin Santana‘s strong start or the Royals’ three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth. For me, it was all about Salvador Perez‘s defense.
Perez made two massive plays that will seem little more than footnotes in the box score.
In the first inning, Perez bailed out a wobbling Santana by throwing out Minnesota Twins DH Ryan Doumit at second base to end the inning. Santana had already surrendered a run on three hits and gave up a sharp single to left with runners on first and second. LF Alex Gordon made a strong throw home, which forced Twin’s 1B Justin Morneau to hold up at third. Perez aggressively cut the throw off in front of the plate and caught Doumit straying from the bag at second.
After this play, Ervin Santana dominated the Twins for the next 7 innings. He racked up 6 srikeouts, scattered four more hits, and issued one walk. That walk leads us to Perez’s second important play.
In the top of the seventh, Perez threw out 3B Trevor Plouffe at second on an attempted steal after a leadoff single. The play took on more significance when two batters later, Santana allowed his only walk of the game to SS Pedro Florimon. Santana then struck out CF Aaron Hicks to quietly retire the side. Perez not only prevented Plouffe from getting into position for a potential insurance run, he also cut off a two-on, one-out opportunity for Minnesota.
It was those two defensive plays that set the stage for Royals’ 3-run comeback in the eighth. No one knows what would have happened had Perez not made those plays. Perhaps the team could have wriggled off the hook both times. Perez prevented us from ever having to find out.
To paraphrase Royals reserve OF Jarrod Dyson, that’s what defense do.