Salvador Perez Breaks Johnny Bench’s Record for Home Runs by a Catcher in a Season

Salvador Perez is one hit ahead in the history books…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player for the Kansas City Royals hit his 46th home run on Monday, breaking Johnny Bench‘s record for home runs by a catcher in a season, as the Royals beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2.

Salvador Perez Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, topping Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I thank God for this. It’s amazing.”

Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and leads the MLB with 115 RBIs, the first catcher with that many RBIs since Mike Piazza in 1999.

It has been a long road for Perez this season to put himself in contention for the home run title. He trailed Shohei Ohtani — the home run leader at the time — by 12 at the MLB All-Star break and made up the distance by hitting 25 homers since July 24.

Only Jimmie Foxx in 1935 has won the home run title after trailing the leader by at least 12 dingers at the All-Star break, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “The long history in this game and how many great players have come through. For him to do something that nobody’s done, it’s amazing.”

Starting again behind the plate — the durable All-Star has seen some time at designated hitter — Perez drove a 1-2 pitch from Triston McKenzie into the left-field bleachers, a drive that traveled 429 feet. Perez pointed to the sky after crossing home plate and was hugged by several teammates as he entered the dugout.

“For a guy who’s so respected in this clubhouse, it was different than your normal home run,” Matheny said. “You could see the look on Salvy’s face. He’ll never forget it.”

Perez tied Bench on Thursday night in Kansas City as the Royals played Seattle. He went 1-for-13 at the plate in the final three games of the series but didn’t feel any pressure to set the record and was more focused on winning games.

“Perez is one of those rare individuals to find energy and passion just to keep playing,” Indians interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “And the offensive year he’s having it’s even more special. People don’t talk about him in the MVP race, but I’ll tell you what, he’s there in my book.”

Perez also singled in the first and made his presence known defensively when he threw out Myles Straw trying to steal second base in the bottom of the inning.

“He’s a great hitter, to start,” McKenzie said. “Second of all, he’s a great catcher. Threw out Straw early in the game, kind of shut down some of our momentum. He’s a guy that can always make you pay for mistakes. He did just that. He has definitely caught fire toward the end of the season.”

Salvador Perez Ties Johnny Bench’s Record for Homers in a Season by a Catcher

Salvador Perez is rewriting history…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and Kansas City Royals slugger has tied Johnny Bench‘s record for homers in a season by a catcher with his 45th in a 7-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

Salvador Perez

Perez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, matching Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez is tied with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League Baseball lead in homers and also leads the MLB with 112 RBIs.

“We’re witnessing a special season,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re witnessing a special player. To be able to be put in the conversation with one most would say is the best ever is pretty rare.”

His talent is not lost on the opposition.

“Salvador, it seems like he’s hitting a home run a day against everybody,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t miss against him right now.”

Perez is three homers away from matching Jorge Soler‘s team record from 2019. Soler extended the Royals’ record by 10. Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second on the club’s all-time list with 197 home runs. George Brett holds the club record with 317.

After bouncing back from an elbow injury that caused him to miss all of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, Perez has been on a tear. His 56 home runs in 2020 and 2021 are the most in MLB over that span, while his 144 RBIs rank third.

If Perez, Guerrero and Shohei Ohtani (44) — from Venezuela, Canada and Japan, respectively — are atop the home run leaderboard until the season’s end, it will be the first time in MLB history that the top three leaders were all born outside the United States, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Vince Velasquez Signs Minor League Contract with San Diego Padres

Que padre(s)! Vince Velasquez is heading back to the mound…

The 29-year-old Latino professional baseball pitcher, a right-hander, has signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres.

Vince Velasquez

Velasquez, who was released by the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, is expected to be added to San Diego’s active 28-man roster this weekend in St. Louis and make a start during the three-game series against the Cardinals, the Padres said.

A seven-year veteran, Velasquez, 29, is 3-6 with a 5.95 ERA this season.

He previously played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies.

Teofimo Lopez to Fight George Kambosos in October

Teofimo Lopez is officially ready to rumble…

The 24-year-old Honduran American boxer and George Kambosos have signed contracts for an undisputed lightweight title fight that will take place on October 4 at New York’s Hulu Theater at MSG, Triller COO Thorsten Meier tells ESPN.

Teofimo Lopez

The fight was set for October 5, but Triller moved the fight to avoid competing with a potential wild-card playoff game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in New York. If the MLB season ended today, that game would take place on October 5.

“We want to make sure the sporting fans can see both amazing events,” Meier said.

Lopez-Kambosos will be the rare Monday evening boxing match in a sport that usually — with rare exception — holds its notable events on Saturday. It’s yet another date change for the seemingly snakebitten event.

Triller won the rights to the fight at a February purse bid with $6.018 million. The fight was planned for June 5 before it was officially set for June 19 in Miami. In the days leading up to the bout, Lopez tested positive for COVID-19.

Triller announced a rescheduled date of August 14 before it looked to stage the fight on October 17 in Sydney, Australia. Lopez balked at the government-mandated 14-day quarantine, leading to a legal battle. The IBF ultimately ruled the fight couldn’t take place in a location that requires quarantine.

The bout between Lopez, a Brooklyn native, and Kambosos, a 28-year-old Australian, was then planned for October 5.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is ESPN‘s No. 1 lightweight and No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter. He won the undisputed championship in October with a unanimous-decision victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs), ESPN’s No. 9 lightweight, earned the title shot with a split-decision win over Lee Selby later that month.

Albert Pujols Hits First-Inning Home Run in St. Louis Return

It’s a memorable homecoming for Albert Pujols.

The 41-year-old Dominican professional baseball player hit a home run in his return to Busch Stadium, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 7-2 win over his former St. Louis Cardinals team on Tuesday night.

Albert Pujols

The playoff-contending Dodgers won the sixth time in eight games. St. Louis has lost four in a row.

A star slugger who led the Cardinals to a pair of World Series championships, Pujols made his second appearance at Busch Stadium after playing for St. Louis from 2001 to 2011.

Pujols drew a 40-second standing ovation when his name was announced prior to a first-inning at-bat, with catcher and longtime teammate Yadier Molina stepping in front of the plate to prolong the cheer. They had a short embrace before Pujols stepped in. Pujols promptly drilled the fourth pitch from J.A. Happ on a line over the wall in left. It was his 679th career home run and 17th of the season.

“It’s one of those things that you hope could happen,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. “But the likelihood is very improbable. Getting a standing ovation and then homering in that first at-bat. Storybook. I’m a firm believer that the game honors you. The way Albert’s played the game for so long, the right way, that’s the way it was supposed to go.”

Pujols tried to downplay the moment.

“When it happens, you just let it happen,” he said. “It’s part of the game. Embrace the moment. But try not to get caught up too much.”

His teammates had no problem enjoying the special moment.

“It was pretty surreal,” Turner said. “Pretty cool for everyone in the stadium — not just Albert. Every time he hits a homer, you’re watching history.”

The 10-time MLB All-Star drew a similar fan reaction when he returned to St. Louis with the Los Angeles Angels for the first time in 2019. He was given a standing ovation in all 12 plate appearances that series, including a one-minute tribute in his first trip to the plate. He also homered in the first game of that series.

Pujols, who did not play in the series opener Monday night, went 1-for-4. The first baseman signed a 10-year deal with the Angels after the 2011 season, then joined the Dodgers last May.

Yadier Molina Agrees to One-Year Extension with St. Louis Cardinals

It’s the last hurrah for Yadier Molina

The 39-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher has agreed to a one-year extension with the St. Louis Cardinals, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak indicating it will be the MLB All-Star‘s final year with his longtime team.

Yadier Molina

Sources told ESPN the deal is worth $10 million, confirming a report by The Athletic.

“We are pleased to announce that Yadi has agreed to cement his career legacy with the Cardinals for a final season in 2022,” Mozeliak said in a statement. “His experience, leadership, work ethic and winning desire are all part of what we value as an organization.”

Molina has spent his entire career — 2,119 games over 18 seasons — with the Cardinals. The only two players to play more games in a Cardinals uniform are Hall of Famers Stan Musial (3,026) and Lou Brock (2,289).

“I’m so happy, so happy,” Molina told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

Molina, who is playing this season on a one-year, $9 million deal, said earlier this month that he did not want to enter free agency again this winter.

A 10-time All-Star, Molina broke into the majors with the Cardinals in 2004 and never left, helping lead the team to four National League pennants and two World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He was selected by St. Louis in the fourth round of the 2000 amateur draft. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico, native is a .280 career hitter with 168 homers and 983 RBIs heading into Tuesday’s game.

Molina’s 2,080 career games behind the plate are the most for any catcher with just one team, and he is a nine-time Gold Glove winner.

“On behalf of the Cardinals and our fans, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Yadier Molina will continue his franchise legacy for another season in 2022,” said Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. “Yadi has continued to play at an All-Star level this season, and has already established himself among the greatest players to have ever worn the birds on the bat.”

Marlins’ Pitching Prospect Edward Cabrera to Make MLB Debut This Week

Edward Cabrera is ready for his big moment…

The 23-year-old Dominican highly regarded pitching prospect is scheduled to make his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut on Wednesday when the Miami Marlins take on the Washington Nationals.

Edward Cabrera

Cabrera is 3-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 starts at three minor league levels this year. He was sidelined early in the season by a biceps injury.

The right-handed pitcher is 19-25 with a 3.54 ERA in five seasons in the minors, recording 361 strikeouts in 341 innings.

Miguel Cabrera Becomes Newest Member of MLB’s 500 Home Run Club

Miguel Cabrera is in elite company…

The 38-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player, a first baseman and designated hitter for the Detroit Tigers, is now a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball, after becoming the 28th member of the 500 home run club with a sixth-inning blast for the Tigers on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera connected on a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Steven Matz, sending the ball over the scoreboard in right-center field. The 400-foot homer tied the score at 1. The Tigers won the game 5-3 in 11 innings.

The 14,685 fans at Rogers Centre rose for a standing ovation as Cabrera rounded the bases. After celebrating with his teammates, the Tigers slugger came out of the dugout to accept a curtain call, taking off his helmet and bowing to the crowd behind Detroit’s dugout.

“It’s something special for my country, for my family, to be able to do this,” he said. “I’m really happy.”

Cabrera is the first player to reach the mark in a Tigers uniform. Detroit manager AJ Hinch asked Cabrera to address the team after the game, and the slugger thanked his teammates for their support.

“So proud for him and his family, and a career accomplishment so rare you may never get to be a part of this again,” Hinch said. “We have no idea who the next person can be to pass this big number.”

Cabrera went 31 at-bats between his 499th and 500th home runs, the third-longest such stretch in MLB history, behind Jimmie Foxx (61) and Harmon Killebrew (43), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Now in his 19th season in Major League Baseball, Cabrera foretold his future greatness in his first major league game on June 20, 2003, when he hit a walk-off home run to dead-center field in the bottom of the 11th inning for the Florida Marlins in a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay.

Indeed, he was precocious enough at the plate as a much-hyped 20-year-old that by October of that year he was batting cleanup for the Marlins in the World Series. He is still the youngest player to start at cleanup in a World Series game.

It has been a slow trek to 500 for Cabrera, who had 446 home runs at the end of the 2016 season after hitting 38 that year, marking the 10th time he had reached 30 home runs. He hasn’t hit more than 16 in a season since, as injuries and age sapped his power output. His 500th home run was his 13th of 2021.

Still, Cabrera is one of the best all-around hitters in the 500 home run club. His .311 career batting average ranks fifth among the 28 players; only nine batted .300 in their careers. His career adjusted batting is 19.2% better than the league average, which ranks behind only Ted Williams and Babe Ruth among club members, and he won batting titles in 2011 (.344), 2012 (.330), 2013 (.348) and 2015 (.338). The only other right-handed hitters with 500 home runs and a .300 average are Manny Ramirez, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Thomas.

Cabrera’s four batting titles ties Williams for the most among members of the 500 home run club, pending inclusion of the Negro Leagues‘ stats, according to ESPN Stats & Info research. Cabrera also is the only member of the club who was born in Venezuela.

Cabrera has won two home run titles, as well, leading the American League with 37 in 2008, his first season with the Tigers after a trade with the Marlins, and then again with 44 in 2012. That was Cabrera’s Triple Crown season, in which he became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to lead his league in home runs, RBIs and batting average. Cabrera won his first of back-to-back MVP awards during that 2012 campaign, beating out Mike Trout both times.

A few more home run facts from Cabrera’s career:

  • He has 41 two-homer games and two three-homer games. His three-homer games came against Oakland on May 28, 2010, and versus Texas on May 19, 2013.
  • His most victimized team: He has hit 50 home runs against Cleveland.
  • His most victimized pitcher: He hit seven off Phil Hughes.
  • He has hit seven walk-off home runs, that first one in his first game coming off Al Levine.

Next up for Cabrera: The 3,000 hit club, which has 32 members. He needed 134 hits at the start of the season, and in spring training, Cabrera said he wished to join both clubs in 2021.

“I hope I can get to 500, 3,000 this year,” he said in February. “It’s one of my goals this year. Mentally, I feel good. I feel mentally strong. I’m trying to go day by day and trying to play hard.”

It appears Cabrera will fall short of that milestone, as he has 2,955 hits. He had one stint on the injured list this year, missing 13 games in April with a biceps strain.

He is still signed through 2023, however, so he should get there in early 2022. The 3,000/500 club includes just six players: Aaron, Mays, Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.

San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. Hits Two Homers in Return from Injured List

Fernando Tatis Jr. is back in the game with a bang…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, known as “El Niño“, wasted no time making his mark in his return from the San Diego Padres’ injured list on Sunday, hitting his 32nd and 33rd homers in an 8-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks while playing right field for the first time as a professional.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis had one thought running through his mind as he returned to San Diego’s lineup.

“Make them remember why they missed you,” he said grinning.

The MLB All-Star — batting leadoff — ripped a double down the left-field line in his first at-bat but was stranded at third in the first inning. He added a solo homer in the third on a towering fly ball that landed in the left-field stands and another solo shot in the fifth that easily cleared the wall in approximately the same spot.

“Fernando being Fernando,” Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “It never ceases to amaze any of us.”

It was Tatis’ fifth multi-homer game this season and No. 8 for his career. He added a bases-loaded single in the eighth that brought home Victor Caratini and Trent Grisham.

Tatis also caught David Peralta‘s fly to right for the final out of the bottom of the first.

Tatis had been on the injured list since July 31 after partially dislocating his left shoulder for the third time this season.

The electrifying star usually plays shortstop, but the Padres decided to move him to the outfield for the time being. The hope is there’s less chance he’ll get hurt, allowing him to stay in the lineup for the rest of the season.

He wasn’t challenged much in the outfield on Sunday, but he made a few routine catches.

“It was pretty chill,” Tatis said.

Tatis suffered a partially dislocated left shoulder on a violent swing April 5 against the San Francisco Giants and went on the 10-day injured list. He reinjured the shoulder diving for a ball and left a game against the Cincinnati Reds on June 19 but missed only one game.

He left a spring training game after hurting the shoulder while making a throw but was back two days later. He revealed then that he had been dealing with shoulder discomfort since his minor league days. Tatis also missed eight games in mid-May after testing positive for COVID-19.

He became the first Padres player voted to start an All-Star Game since Tony Gwynn in 1999.

The return of Tatis is a huge boost for the Padres, who have 15 players on the injured list and have taken a nosedive in the National League West standings. They still occupy the second NL wild-card spot in the playoff race but are feeling pressure from the charging Cincinnati RedsPhiladelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

Juan Francisco Leads Dominican Republic to Country’s First-Ever Baseball Olympics Medal

2020 Tokyo GamesJuan Francisco is the Domincan Republic’s new hero…

The 34-year-old Dominican former professional baseball first baseman homered to help give the Dominican Republic a four-run, first-inning lead, then hit a tie-breaking, two-run double off Seunghwan Oh in a five-run eighth inning to help lead his team to a 10-6 victory over South Korea to claim the bronze in men’s baseball at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Juan Francisco

Melky Cabrera had four hits for the Dominicans (3-3), who won a baseball medal for the first time, and the country’s first-ever team medal.

South Korea (3-4), the 2012 London Games gold medalist, took a 6-5 lead in a four-run fifth inning against five pitchers. Kang Baek-Ho hit a go-ahead single.

Oh (2-1), a 39-year-old right-hander who pitched in Major League Baseball blew a save for the second time in the tournament.

Kansas City farmhands Jeison Guzman and Erick Mejia singled in the eighth, Seattle Mariners prospect Julio Rodriguez walked and Oh threw a wild pitch that tied the score.

Dominican Republic Baseball

Francisco, a six-year big league veteran whose last major league at-bat was in 2014, had struck out in his three previous plate appearances and nine times overall. The 34-year-old doubled to the left-center gap for an 8-6 lead, and Boston Red Sox prospect Johan Mieses followed with a long two-run homer to left.

Francisco hit .208 (5 for 24) with two homers and five RBIs during the tournament, the last for baseball in the Olympics until at least 2028.

Cristopher Mercedes (1-0), who pitches for the Central League‘s Yomiuri Giants, threw 3 1/3 shutout innings through the eighth as the fourth reliever out of the Dominican bullpen.

Jumbo Diaz, four years removed from his last big league appearance, relieved with two on in the ninth and got three straight outs for the save.

Rodriguez, a 20-year-old at Double-A Arkansas, put the Dominicans ahead 2-0 on an afternoon of intermittent rain when he sent a 0-1 pitch well over the left field wall. Francisco drove the next pitch in the last row of the right-field seats for his second Olympic homer and a 3-0 lead.

Mieses walked, and that was it for South Korea starter Kim Min-woo, who allowed four runs, three hits and a walk in one-third of an inning. Charlie Valerio added a sacrifice fly.

Dominican starter Raul Valdes, a 43-year-old left-hander who was the oldest player in the tournament, gave up five runs and nine hits in four-plus innings. Valdes’ last big league appearance was for Houston in 2014.

Rodriguez was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Park Se-Woong in the sixth but stayed in the game.

Jhan Marinez‘s first attempt to relieve was foiled when the bullpen cart started to the mound when he had just one leg on it, causing him to stumble. He got back on and walked his only batter.