KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The three-run bomb from Salvador Perez came a day later.
But it was needed just as much.
Perez came up with two men on in the bottom of the ninth Friday night with a chance to win the game against the Yankees. He grounded out, ending the game.
But on Saturday night, in a 3-3 tie, Perez came up with two on again — this time in the sixth. He unloaded a three-run shot over the left-field fence to propel the Royals to an 8-4 win, squaring the series at 1-1.
Perez, like many other Royals, has been scuffling lately. But he came through with three hits on the night.
"It’s not easy," Perez said, "but it’s coming."
Eric Hosmer also added a monstrous blast, just his second homer of the season.
"But he’s ahead of his pace from last season," said manager Ned Yost, smiling.
Hosmer didn’t hit his second homer of 2013 until June 13.
— The Alex train keeps chugging. Alex Gordon came into the game hitting .290 and keeps climbing toward .300. He’s at .291 now. He got the Royals’ offense going by smashing a double down the right-field line to score Billy Butler and give the Royals a 1-0 lead in the second. Gordon then scored on Lorenzo Cain’s single. Gordon helped the big rally in the sixth, too, by drawing a walk, as did Butler before him.
"Just two professional at-bats there to draw the walks," Yost said.
Added Hosmer: "That’s what it takes to win, knowing the situation and knowing you have to get on. Great job by Bill and Alex." That set up Perez’s three-run bomb.
— LoCain train doing just fine, too. Cain keeps contributing to the offense as well, piling up three more hits Saturday. He singled in the second and scored, tripled in the sixth and scored, and singled in the seventh. Cain pushed his average to .331 and, along with Gordon, is red hot.
"We don’t even know his full potential," Yost said. "He’s still growing as a hitter."
— Welcome sight, Hoz. Hosmer was 11 for 71 before belting a drive over the right-field bullpen for just his second home run of the season. The blast carried 427 feet, and might have been the most welcome sight of the night considering how desperately the Royals need their No. 3 hitter to get into a groove.
"Oh yeah, that felt very good," Hosmer said. "Any time you’re struggling, it helps to really connect with one. Even in my last at-bat after that, I felt more relaxed."
If Hosmer, Butler, Gordon, Perez and Cain get hot together, the Royals surely will go on an extended run as Yost envisioned they would soon. Hoz’s only other homer this year came May 5 at San Diego.
— The Moose bunt. The Royals had right-hander David Phelps on the run in the second inning when four straight hitters delivered hits. But with runners on first and second, Mike Moustakas attempted a sacrifice bunt on his own. Moose pushed a poor bunt toward Phelps, who had an easy force at third.
This wasn’t a sound strategy. This was a pitcher struggling and a pitcher Moose probably could have done some damage to (Moose singled sharply his next time up). Giving Phelps an easy out by sacrifice bailed him out. And then not executing the sacrifice bunt really helped Phelps prevent a bigger inning.
— Tough luck for Danny. Danny Duffy deserved a better fate. Duffy pitched brilliantly for five innings before running into a little jam in the sixth. With one out, Derek Jeter poked a seeing-eye single to right. Then Duffy got Jacoby Ellsbury on a routine fly. Duffy got ahead of Mark Teixeira 1-2 but then lost him after a long battle.
"Tip your hat to him," Duffy said. "I probably threw the best changeup of the season to him on 2-2 and he spit on it."
The walk put two runners on. Then Carlos Beltran on the first pitch doubled into the corner to pull the Yanks within 3-1. That was the only hard-hit ball off Duffy all night. "It wasn’t a bad pitch," Duffy said. "It was up and off the plate."
But Duffy’s night ended when Yangervis Solarte blooped a single to right center just out of Cain’s grasp. That two-run single tied it and spoiled a really solid outing by Duffy until then.
— Could have been more. The Yanks were a bit fortunate to have tied the game at 3-3, having hit only one ball really hard. Meanwhile, the Royals could have blown this one out early but hit into some horrible luck.
With two on and one out in the second, Nori Aoki blistered a liner right at Ellsbury in center field. Then, with runners on first and third and one out in the fourth, Alcides Escobar hit a laser right back to Phelps, who while defending himself also happened to make the catch. Phelps then got a double play by getting Moustakas at first. In the fifth, Aoki again sizzled a liner that nearly took off Solarte’s head at third, but Solarte made a nice catch.