KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On his first day in the major leagues, Cam Gallagher stood by his locker at just past 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning. A pack of reporters surrounded him, asking the usual questions about his journey. A few feet away, Drew Butera milled about the center of the room, fiddling with some equipment and peering back toward the scene.
On the Royals’ first day without catcher Salvador Perez — who officially landed on the 10-day disabled list because of an intercostal strain in his right side — the two men most affected by his absence began the morning separated by a line of empty locker stalls. By the end of a doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners, both Gallagher and Butera had played crucial roles in a split Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
In a 9-1 victory in the second game, Gallagher collected his first major league hit and caught a gem from fellow rookie Jakob Junis, who yielded just one run and four hits in eight innings while making a spot start. In an 8-7 loss in game one, Butera was among a cast of characters responsible for a disastrous second inning that ultimately prevented a sweep.
The Royals (57-53) settled for series split after four games with Seattle after heavy rains washed out a game on Saturday. The victory in the nightcap pulled them within 2.5 games of first-place Cleveland, which lost a series finale in New York, and kept them in line for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
Melky Cabrera finished 3 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs, igniting the Royals offense in the second game. Lorenzo Cain finished 6 for 10 after two three-hit games, raising his batting average eight points to .283. The Kansas City attack finished the day with five home runs, battering Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez for five runs in five innings to salvage a win after a missed opportunity in the early afternoon.
So let’s start with the good: Second baseman Whit Merrifield collected a game-tying solo homer in the second game and a two-run shot in the first. Eric Hosmer clubbed a solo blast to deep left-center in the sixth inning of game two. Mike Moustakas finished the day just five homers shy of Steve Balboni’s club record after cranking his 31st homer in the eighth inning of game one. And Junis retired the last 19 hitters he faced while serving as the Royals’ 26th man during the traditional doubleheader.
For one day, the Royals were without Perez. There will be more, too. After sustaining an intercostal strain in a loss on Friday night, Perez could be out as long as four weeks. Club officials are hopeful that the recovery process will be closer to two. Yet for now, the club will move forward with Butera and Gallagher, a former second-round pick, behind the plate.
The first day without Perez ended with one victory and one loss.