Salvador Perez tied Johnny Bench’s single-season homerun record by a wide receiver with his 45th, but Chad Pinder’s two-run single boosted a third inning rally and the Oakland Athletics held off the Kansas City Royals 7 -2 Thursday.
Perez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, tying the 1970 Bench total for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games on receiver. Perez is tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of Toronto for the major league lead in home runs and also leads the bigs with 112 RBIs.
“We are seeing a special season,” said manager Mike Matheny. “We’re seeing a special player. Being able to be put into conversation with one of them would say it’s the best ever is pretty rare.”
His talent is not lost on the opposition.
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“Salvador looks like he’s hitting a home run a day against everyone,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t miss against him right now.”
Oakland started the day 3 1/2 games behind Toronto, Boston and the New York Yankees for the two AL jokers.
Pinder delivered a two-out hit in a four-run third inning in which Oakland had seven runners reaching base – with just two hits. The A’s also scored three runs in the ninth on a single hit.
“We’re going to be drawing some walks,” Melvin said. “Obviously there were some wild throws that put some finalists up. We had big hits when we needed it. When you put a crooked number, it has an emotional effect on the other side.”
The Royals had the equalizer on base with less than two strikeouts in the sixth and eighth innings, but couldn’t score.
Paul Blackburn (1-2) fought more than five innings for Oakland, giving up two runs on six hits.
Daniel Lynch (4-5) suffered the defeat. He left the game in the third inning with left calf strain with goals loaded and a full count on Matt Olson. He allowed three runs (one earned) on two hits over two innings. He also walked one and hit two hitters.
Matheny said it turned out to be a cramp that didn’t stop.
Perez is three homers away from Jorge Soler’s 2019 team record. Soler extended the Royals’ record by 10. Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second on the club’s all-time roster at 197. George Brett holds the club’s record with 317.
Only one of Oakland’s points in the third was earned. The A’s had seven hitters at the base, with just two on hits. Josh Harrison’s single led Elvis Andrus with the first run. Jed Lowrie reached on an error, scoring another run, and Pinder’s two-run single capped the set.
RHP Mike Proud of A, who missed most of the season with a sprained right elbow, began rehabilitation on Tuesday. He will have another appearance in rehab on Saturday, likely out of the reliever pen. … 3B Matt Chapman hit the cage Thursday. Melvin said if all went well, Chapman would have a shot at making the roster on Friday. Chapman fouled his shin / foot last Saturday and hasn’t played since.
Athletics: LHP Cole Irvin (9-13, 4.04 ERA) kicks off game one of a series at the Los Angeles Angels.
Royals: RHP Brady Singer (4-10, 4.85) faces Seattle to start a home series Friday.