The Royals don’t hit many home runs, but the ones they blasted in Saturday’s 8-4 victory over the Yankees were loud.
Salvador Perez crushed a three-run homer in the sixth after the Yankees had just tied the game.
An inning later, Eric Hosmer awoke from his power slumber and drove a 0-2 pitch 427 feet into the seats above the visitors’ bullpen in right field.
It added up to a satisfying triumph on a night when the bats were the stars.
“I’ve been saying all along that we have home-run power, and it will manifest itself in time,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Perez’s shot was his sixth of the season, matching Alex Gordon for the team lead, and was the first by a Royals player in Kauffman Stadium since Brett Hayes went deep in the series finale against Houston on May 28.
“It felt pretty good,” Perez said. “A sinker down and in. It was a pretty good pitch.”
Then the Royals just showed off with Hosmer’s no-doubter, only his second home run of the year. In the dugout after the blast, Yost offered his first baseman a reminder: “He told me we’re ahead of the pace from last year,” Hosmer said.
Indeed. Hosmer’s second home run of 2013 didn’t occur until June 13. He beat that mark by nearly a week. Like many of the Royals, Hosmer warmed up in the summer and finished with 17 home runs.
The Yankees had used a combination of the familiar and unfamiliar to erase a Royals’ 3-0 lead in the sixth.
Derek Jeter, on his farewell tour of baseball and making his first Kauffman appearance after sitting out Friday’s opener, stroked career hit No. 3,370, a single to right with one out.
There were two outs when Mark Teixeira coaxed a walk on a full count, and up stepped Carlos Beltran, the 1999 American League Rookie of the Year as a Royal and still a resident on some of the franchise’s career top 10 lists, like home runs, RBIs and runs.
Beltran pulled Danny Duffy’s fastball over Gordon in left for an RBI double, cutting the Royals’ lead to 3-1. Up next was rookie Yangervis Solarte, and he sliced a drive to right. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain, one of the fastest Royals, went into a sprint and stretched his body at the last moment. But the ball dropped on the turf a few inches from Cain’s glove and the game was tied.
“I tried to go get it,” Cain said. “Kind of tailing away, I did the best I could to try and make a play, but it was just out of reach.”
But whatever momentum the Yankees gained from the inning, the Royals snatched it back quickly.
Billy Butler and Gordon opened the sixth with walks off Yankees starter Dale Phelps when Perez turned on an inside pitch and sent it into the bullpen in left field. That was Royals home run No. 27 this season. Entering the evening, the next-to-last place AL team in homers was Texas with 42.
The Royals weren’t finished in the inning. Cain tripled to right-center, and two outs later Nori Aoki singled him home.
The Aoki hit and Hosmer’s homer provided the benefit of saving bullpen arms. With no save situation, Yost could spare his eighth-inning specialist and his closer, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.
Duffy was presented a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Butler got it started with a double that one-hopped the wall in right-center. Gordon followed with a rope down the right-field line. He slid into second with an RBI double that raised his batting average to .400 (20 for 50) with runners in scoring position.
Gordon thought about trying to race home when Perez dropped a bloop single to left, but third-base coach Mike Jirschele put up the stop sign. Good move when Gordon trotted home on Cain’s single to right.
Mike Moustakas tried to bunt against the shift, but Perez was thrown out at third. Still, the Royals weren’t finished. Alcides Escobar dribbled a single up the middle that scored Cain. A night after they managed only two runs against the Yankees, the Royals had a three-run second inning.
It appeared to be enough for Duffy, who upon finishing the fifth had extended his scoreless inning streak to 11 innings, following the stellar outing earlier in the week in St. Louis.
The Yankees got to Duffy in the sixth, but the Royals responded, with power.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.