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Perez breaks Bench’s home run record; Royals sweep Indians

Salvador Perez hit his 46th home run, breaking Johnny Bench’s record for most by a catcher in a campaign to highlight the opener, then the Kansas City Royals completed a doubleheader sweep by defeating the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Monday night.

Perez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning of a 7-2 victory, topping Bench’s total from 1970 for the highest total by a player who spent at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Perez leads the majors with 115 RBI.

“I had never hit 30 in my career,” he said. “So I was looking for 30 homers and 100 RBI. This is a dream come true.” Perez’s career high in home runs was 27, which came in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

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Being in the same company with Bench is something else special for the 31-year-old Perez who has been a mainstay for the Royals since reaching the majors in 2011.

“When you see a Hall of Fame catcher, you try to be just like him,” Perez said. “I’m going to try my best to be one of those guys.”

Royals manager Mike Matheny considered it an honor to witness the moment.

“It’s just hard to get your head around, to be honest,” 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.”

In the second game, Perez hit an early double before striking out against Anthony Gose, a former outfielder who returned to the majors after a five-year absence as a hard-throwing reliever.

Gose pitched 1 2/3 innings, permitting one run and one hit with one walk and one strikeout. Of his 39 pitches, seven reached 100 mph.

The 31-year-old Gose last played in the majors in 2016 with Detroit. He spent parts of five years with the Tigers and Toronto before becoming a pitcher.

“It meant a lot to get the opportunity to go out there again. It’s been a while. I’m excited to be able to have the opportunity,” Gose said.

Joel Payamps, Domingo Tapia, Jake Brentz. Josh Statamount and Scott Barlow combined on a four-hitter in the second game. Tapia (3-0) struck out four in 1 2/3 innings and Barlow pitched the ninth for his 14th save.

The Royals scored twice off Nick Wittgren (2-8) in the first when Carlos Santana drew a bases-loaded walk and Hunter Dozier added a sacrifice fly.

Kansas City scored in the fourth off Gose on a double by Hanser Alberto and an RBI groundout by Sebastian Rivero.

Alberto added an RBI single in the sixth off Bryan Shaw.

Andrés Giménez and Bobby Bradley homered for Cleveland. The Indians were held to four runs in the two seven-inning games after scoring 11 runs on both Saturday and Sunday in victories over the New York Yankees.

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