Salvador Perez received a pair of unwieldy assignments in Tuesday night’s All Star Game. First, he had to attempt to catch the darting, late-moving pitches of Felix Hernandez, the Seattle ace and the starter for the American League. Then he had to face Los Angeles phenom Clayton Kershaw in his lone at-bat.
Perez embraced the challenges, tough as they were. Hernandez flung a wild pitch in the first inning, which allowed Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen to take second. McCutchen soon stole third, taking advantage of a pitch in the dirt. Perez and Hernandez recovered to finish the frame without allowing a run.
Perez completed five innings in the field. His only time at the plate lasted three pitches. With two outs in the second, Kershaw pounded a trio of fastballs on Perez’s hands. All were strikes. Perez grounded the last to third base.
“That was not fun,” Perez said with a smile.
With Alex Gordon resting his sprained right wrist, the only other Royals representative at Tuesday’s game was closer Greg Holland. He hasn’t pitched in the seventh inning of a game since last year’s All Star night. So the call he received from Boston manager John Farrell felt familiar.
Holland handled the request with ease, despite his roiling nerves. He cruised through a spotless inning. After getting Pirates infielder Josh Harrison to fly out to right, Holland bore down on Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon. He fooled Blackmon with a slider for a swinging strikeout.
His last batter was San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence. Pence struck a hard grounder toward third base. Adrian Beltre scooped to make the play. It was a nine-pitch night for Holland.
“The biggest part was being able to come in the dugout after a 1-2-3 inning and relax, take a deep breath,” Holland said. “And say, ‘OK, I got through it.’”