Perez, Royals aim to extend Cubs’ home skid

MLB

Catcher Salvador Perez is enjoying a career year for the Kansas City Royals, who continue their three-game series against the host Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

The 31-year-old hit two of the Royals’ season-high five homers in Friday’s 6-2 victory as Kansas City won for the fourth time in their last five games.

Perez, who reached his 10-year service time milestone earlier this month, shows no signs of slowing down with a career-high 32 homers and 80 RBIs.

His 32 homers are fourth-most in the majors, behind Shohei Ohtani (40), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (35) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (34).

“I’m looking forward to seeing what his future will look like, because he’s going to go down as one of the best catchers of all time,” teammate Whit Merrifield said.

Perez was removed from Friday’s game in the eighth inning after taking a foul ball off his helmet in the sixth. Manager Mike Matheny said the catcher passed a concussion test after the contest and could be in the lineup on Saturday.

The Royals will look to build on their momentum against Chicago, which has lost 11 in a row at home. The streak is the club’s second-longest in team history, trailing only a 12-game slide in 1994.

The Cubs are also 4-19 in their last 23 games, but one bright spot has been the play of 29-year-old rookie Patrick Wisdom, who leads all National League rookies with 19 homers.

Cubs infielder Matt Duffy’s 10-game hitting streak ended on Friday, but Ian Happ delivered an RBI single and has hit safely in seven of his last eight games.

Chicago’s ongoing audition for next season’s rotation continues Saturday with rookie right-hander Keegan Thompson (3-2, 2.21 ERA).

The 26-year-old, who has pitched out of the bullpen for most of the season, was sent to Triple-A Iowa on July 27 to work as a starter.

Thompson was outstanding for the Iowa Cubs, pitching 14 2/3 scoreless innings across four starts. He threw 61 pitches in his most recent outing, tossing 4 1/3 perfect innings with seven strikeouts last Sunday.

“It was really good stuff,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Threw strikes. Strikeouts in there. Just efficient with his pitch mix. Just a normal start where he dominated.”

The Royals will counter with Kris Bubic (3-6, 5.09 ERA), who is looking to bounce back from an ugly outing last Sunday. He allowed seven runs on nine hits over 1 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to St. Louis.

“Days like this happen,” Bubic said. “I’m not going to overanalyze or do anything crazy, but obviously this one’s tough because that whole thing pretty much falls on me.”

The 24-year-old left-hander is making his second career start against the Cubs. He allowed two runs over six frames in a 6-1 loss at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 5, 2020.

Hunter Dozier was not in the Royals’ starting lineup Friday due to illness but struck out as a pinch hitter. Dozier has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, batting .318 (14-for-44) with two homers and five RBIs in that span.

Emmanuel Rivera started at third base in place of Dozier and hit his first career homer in the fifth inning.

–Field Level Media

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