Cam Slam lifts Kansas City Royals over Oakland A’s

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 14: Cam Gallagher
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 14: Cam Gallagher /

Rookies Cam Gallagher and Jake Junis led the Kansas City Royals to their third straight win on Monday night. One socked a grand slam and the other turned in a quality start. We’ll let you guess who did what.

The Kansas City Royals have been patiently waiting for catcher Salvador Perez to get healthy.

The team’s fans? Not so much.

Backup catcher Drew Butera put together several nice performances as a scheduled fill-in for Perez during the majority of the season. However, he has been largely inconsistent—particularly on defense—since shifting into a full-time role.

Butera, though, posted his first four-hit game in Sunday’s onslaught against the Chicago White Sox.

If that wasn’t enough to grant fans a little more patience with Perez’s recovery from an intercostal injury, Cam Gallagher‘s showing on Monday night should do the trick.

The rookie backstop smacked a sixth-inning grand slam—his first career home run—to propel the Kansas City Royals to a 6-2 road victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Gallagher, who collected his first hit during the past home-stand, also doubled and reached on a walk in easily the best game of his brief Major League career.

As noted on the FSKC broadcast, Gallagher became just the second player in Kansas City Royals history to have their first career home run be a grand slam. The other was Paul Phillips—a catcher too—on August 17, 2005 at Seattle.

For Gallagher, the memorable shot came in just his 11th career plate appearance. FSKC reporter Joel Goldberg pointed out it took Perez just a little bit longer to hit his first.

The grand slam, which also earned a fan $25,000, came against Oakland starter Jharel Cotton (5-10). Gallagher had a full-count with two outs and the Kansas City Royals (60-58) clinging to a 2-1 lead when he went yard for the first time.

It wasn’t a “blast” by any stretch of the imagination, creeping just inside the left-field foul pole and barely over the 330-foot sign, but it gave the team some much-needed breathing room en route to a third consecutive win.

Junis Showing He Belongs

Rookie hurler Jake Junis, who turned in a second straight quality start, needed the extra run-support, as he struggled to get out of the bottom half of the sixth frame.

After giving up a first-inning run, Junis (5-2) had four scoreless innings before losing command in the sixth.

Back-to-back singles opened the frame for the Athletics (52-67). After a fly out, Junis hit Ryon Healy and Khris Davis to force in a run.

He escaped further damage, though, getting Matt Olson to foul out and Chad Pinder to strikeout.

Ned Yost choosing to leave Junis in with the tying run at the plate against a home run-hitting team was a questionable decision, but one that clearly paid off.

It was likely a combination of showing faith in a young pitcher whom Yost thinks can possibly feature in the rotation the rest of the season and a lack of confidence in a struggling bullpen.

To its credit, the bullpen tossed three shutout innings—one apiece from Mike Minor, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter—to close the game out without any hassle. Although it likely helped not having a reliever thrown into a bases-loaded, one-out situation.

With Perez on the disabled list, Gallagher has been serving as Junis’ unofficial catcher. (He also caught Junis’ impressive eight-inning outing against Seattle on Aug. 6.) But everyone can agree that a return behind the dish for Perez will be a welcome sight.

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However, if Junis and Gallagher continue to perform at this level, Kansas City Royals fans will likely have few objections to seeing the battery mates every fifth day.