The mist shimmered in the Kauffman Stadium lights, and flags whipped high above the diamond Tuesday. Playing once more in inhospitable conditions, the Royals offense looked futile and feckless — until Salvador Perez stepped to the plate in the seventh inning.
“He put us back in there,” outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. “That was a game-changer right there. We kind of knew we were coming back after that.”
Twice in one evening, Perez rescued the Royals and their moribund offense from the prospect of a dismal defeat. Perez blasted a two-run home run in the seventh and a go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth as the Royals beat the Blue Jays, 10-7.
Perez keyed a furious comeback and allowed the Royals, 13-12, to pick up their third victory in four games. The team stretched its record to 13-0 when it scores at least four runs.
The team staged an eighth-inning onslaught, tacking on four more runs after Perez’s double. The excess was important, because reliever Louis Coleman allowed a two-run homer in the ninth.
Jason Vargas picked an opportune evening for his worst performance as a Royal. The Blue Jays tagged him for five runs runs and 10 hits. Vargas crumbled beneath the weight of a seventh-inning flurry. The team trailed by three when Vargas left. The deficit appeared decisive.
Toronto reclamation project Dustin McGowan had recorded an out in the fifth inning in only one of his four starts this season. The Royals managed only three hits against him, but Alex Gordon chased McGowan with a double in the seventh. Perez took reliever Steve Delabar deep and cut the lead to one.
“Salvy’s two-run homer really jump-started the offense,” manager Ned Yost said. “And they just took off from that point.”
It was a marked change from earlier. A lingering storm hovered over the stadium. The conditions delayed the game 27 minutes.
“Another great weather day for you,” a grinning pitching coach Dave Eiland told Vargas a couple of hours before the first-pitch temperature registered at 46 degrees.
Vargas appeared unperturbed. His first pitch was an 85-mph fastball over the middle, and José Reyes managed only an infield pop-up. This is both the wonder and the danger of Vargas, how he unleashes a seemingly middling arsenal without fear.
The team experienced the downside six pitches later. Toronto slugger José Bautista obliterated a belt-high, 87-mph fastball that screamed into the home bullpen in left field.
The Royals notched a pair of runs against McGowan in the second, but Vargas gave the lead back in the fifth. The rain soaked the diamond, and the Blue Jays began to pepper him.
In the seventh, Vargas yielded two doubles and a single and allowed two runs to score before Yost removed him.
“It was hard,” Perez said. “It was tough. With the weather like that, it’s hard to play. It’s hard to feel the ball and everything. He did a tremendous job tonight.”
When Vargas departed, the outcome appeared decided. Except Gordon chased McGowan with a leadoff double in the seventh. In came Delabar to face Perez.
After a ferocious start to the season, Perez fell into a dry spell. During his last 10 games, he was batting .167. Yost felt Perez’s swing was out of sorts, with his lower half and upper body not working together.
Perez hung in against Delabar for eight pitches. He fouled off six and turned on the last one, a 93-mph fastball, and pulled it over the left-field fence.
“That’s the type of thing this offense can do,” Hosmer said.
For so much of this month, the lineup had not lived up to its potential. But after Perez’s homer, they became unleashed.
Hosmer and Billy Butler ripped singles to start the eighth. With runners at the corners, Perez stepped in once more, this time against Toronto closer Sergio Santos.
Once again, Perez saw a challenge from an inside fastball. He cracked it down the third-base line. Hosmer scored to tie the game. Sprinting from first, pinch runner Jimmy Paredes put the Royals ahead.
They never looked back: Run-scoring hits from Dyson, Nori Aoki and Omar Infante followed, and the Royals offense rolled.
“We never give up,” Dyson said. “That’s the motto in here.”