KANSAS CITY -- In the top of the third inning of Tuesday night's game against the Rangers, Royals catcher Salvador Perez became the first catcher in baseball to pick off three runners this season.
Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler led off the frame with a double before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus. On the second pitch of the at-bat to Josh Hamilton, Perez snapped a throw down to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who placed the tag on Kinsler for the inning's second out.
"I knew I had Hamilton hitting, a lefty, and I took an opportunity to save that run for my pitcher," Perez said. "After the first pitch, I looked at Moose, and he knew [Kinsler] was way off the base. He got a big, big lead, and Moose gave me the sign. I said, 'OK, yeah, we'll do it.' The next pitch, we got him."
The pickoff was a big play, as the Rangers boasted a 2-0 lead at the time. It erased a potential third Texas run from scoring, and the Royals tied the game in the bottom half of the inning.
"It gave me a big boost," winning pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said. "I was out there scuffling, not locating two-strike pitches and leaving them over the plate. And then Salvy gets that guy out, and we've got a big hitter at the plate that's more than likely to get a fly ball deep and score that third run. After that I was able to relax and get into a groove."
"He didn't do the fundamental thing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Kinsler. "He had his shoulders square to home plate. He should have been sideways so he could get back to the bag."
Perez's Major League-leading third pickoff matches his total from last season. His first pickoff of the 2012 season came July 7 at Detroit, when he nailed Ryan Raburn at first base. Perez also picked off Matt Joyce at first base on Aug. 21 at Tampa Bay.
Perez nailed two runners in his Major League debut on Aug. 10, 2011, at Tampa Bay and picked off Tyler Flowers in a game against Chicago on Sept. 15.
"It seems like he does that all the time. It's pretty amazing," Royals outfielder Alex Gordon said. "He's one of the best catchers I've ever played with, the way he moves back there and just handles the game."
After the game, Perez was happy to hear he was the top pickoff man in the game.
"I'm the leader in pickoffs? Very good," Perez laughed. "I didn't know that."