The Indians catcher hit .183 during the regular season, further illustrating that his strengths are what he can do squatting behind the plate, not standing at it. And if all-star Jonathan Lucroy hadn’t vetoed his trade from the Brewers in July, Perez likely wouldn’t have been in the starting lineup.
But Lucroy slammed the brakes on a deal to the Indians, and Perez played on Tuesday night, when he slammed a pair of homers in a 6-0 thumping of the Cubs.
“I’ve come a long ways,” Perez said. “I’m just playing with a lot of confidence right now. I’m not trying to do too much at the plate.”
For much of the year, that wasn’t a problem for Perez, who indeed didn’t do too much at the plate. He ended the regular season with just three home runs and a slugging percentage of .294.
Perez is known for pitch framing, a skill that also came out on Tuesday night. He helped Indians ace Corey Kluber get strike calls on the corners with a wicked two-seam fastball the Cubs could not handle. As he’s done all season, Perez drew high marks for his defense.
But that didn’t stop him from using his bat to take over Game 1. He became the first Indians player to hit two homers in a single World Series game. And his four RBIs equaled a team record in a World Series game. Before Perez, no player in World Series history had hit two homers from the ninth spot in the batting order.
“It’s all right there in confidence and feeling good about himself,” Kluber said. “You can see the difference in the way he feels about himself right now.”