Salvy, Holland contribute to All-Star Game win
Royals catcher works four innings, while closer fires perfect seventh for AL
MINNEAPOLIS -- Royals catcher Salvador Perez made his first start in the All-Star Game for the American League squad along with batterymate and starter Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, who is also from Perez's hometown of Valencia, Venezuela.
Closer Greg Holland entered in the seventh inning and showed why he's a two-time All-Star by firing a perfect seventh inning to help preserve the AL's 5-3 victory over the National League in the 85th Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night at Target Field.
Perez, whose ability to call a game is lauded by his Royals' teammates, didn't do too much homework on the American League All-Star pitchers.
"When the pitchers come in, we'll just have a quick conversation on the mound and figure things out. He can throw whatever pitches he wants to throw," Perez said prior to the game. "I want all the pitchers I catch to give up no runs. I want 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3."
Unfortunately, things weren't that easy. With Perez behind the plate, Hernandez gave up an infield hit to NL leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, who later stole third.
"McCutchen got a pretty good jump," Perez said. "It was a nasty pitch from Felix because we were trying to get a strikeout, so I didn't want to hurry up too much to third base. But I made sure I was ready to throw."
In the second, Boston's Jon Lester surrendered three hits and gave up two runs. With Rangers ace Yu Darvish on the hill, though, Perez did get the 1-2-3 inning he was hoping for in the third.
In the fourth, White Sox hurler Chris Sale hit Phillies second baseman Chase Utley with a pitch, then surrendered a double to Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Perez's lone at-bat came against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the second inning with two outs and none on. He hit a slow-roller to third base and narrowly missed beating out a great throw from Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
"Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in the National League," Perez said. "He knows what he's doing on the mound. He came inside and he got me."
Holland was a late addition to the AL roster last year, making his All-Star experience rather chaotic. This time, Holland was a player selection. He took the mound with the AL holding a 5-3 lead in the seventh and set down Pittsburgh's Josh Harrison, Colorado's Charlie Blackmon and San Francisco's Hunter Pence in order. Holland's four-seam fastball hit 97 miles per hour three times.
"The last time I came in the game in the seventh inning was last year's All-Star Game, but I just tried to carry myself as if it was the ninth inning anyway," said Holland, who struck out Blackmon. "For me, the biggest part of today was coming into the dugout after a 1-2-3 inning and getting to relax, and take a deep breath and say, OK, I got through it and I can enjoy the last couple innings."
Left fielder Alex Gordon, who has a nagging right wrist sprain, was unavailable to play in the game, but he made the trip to Minneapolis along with his teammates.
It was the second consecutive season that Perez, Holland and Gordon made the All-Star team as a trio, marking the first time since 1987-88 that the Royals have had three All-Star representatives in consecutive years.
Last season, the three had the privilege of sharing the clubhouse with Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, in his last All-Star Game. Perez even had the honor of being the catcher when Rivera took the mound in the eighth inning. This season, the trio was a part of Derek Jeter's last All-Star turn.
Back-to-back, my first two All-Star Games. Mariano retires, now Jeter. So happy to be part of both. #ASG- Salvador Perez (@SalvadorPerez15) July 16, 2014
"I was cheering like a little kid on the bench for Jeter, and when he came out, he came and sat next to me," Gordon said. "I was like, wow, Derek Jeter's last All-Star Game, and he was sitting next to me. He's just so special as a person and as a ballplayer."
Just after exiting the game, Perez tweeted, "Back to back, my first two All-Star Games. Mariano retires, now Jeter. So happy to be part of both."
Lindsay Berra is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.