Catcher Salvador Perez has crushed pitches on the outer third since June 1.
The Kansas City Royals are as hot as they’ve ever been in the last two decades. For the first time since 1994 and just the fifth time in franchise history, the Royals have won 10 straight games. With the exception of the strike-shortened 1994 season, Kansas City has reached the ALCS in each of the previous three seasons when it won at least 10 straight.
During the 10-game win streak, the Royals have an OPS of .878, which would easily lead MLB this season (Rockies currently top baseball with a .798 OPS).
vs. Pitches on Outer Third
Perez has been an especially difficult out. Perez extended his hit streak to 12 games Wednesday, naturally on a pitch away.
He’s hitting .435 on pitches on the outer third of the plate since the calendar turned to June. In the first two months of the season, Perez batted a respectable .258 on pitches on the outer third or further -- but just slightly above league average.
But over the past two-plus weeks, he's hit .435 on those same pitches.
How Guthrie won
Meanwhile, the Royals got yet another strong performance from a member of their rotation.
Jeremy Guthrie logged nine strikeouts for the second consecutive start, marking the first time he’s accomplished that in his career. Here’s how Guthrie beat the Tigers on Wednesday:
• Guthrie got the Tigers to chase 32 percent of his pitches out of the strike zone, his second-highest rate this season.
• He did so by keeping hitters off balance, using both his fastball and changeup to finish off hitters. The Tigers were 1-13 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending in a fastball, and 1-6 with four strikeouts in at-bats ending in a changeup.
• Guthrie got ahead of hitters and put them away. The Tigers went 0-14 in at-bats that reached two strikes, his only start without allowing a hit in a two-strike count this season.
Great Royals SP during streak
Guthrie’s performance reflects a larger trend among Royals starting pitching during this win streak.
No starter has allowed more than three earned runs in the last 10 games, and the only home run they have allowed was a solo homer that Guthrie gave up in the seventh inning on Wednesday. Royals starters have 58 strikeouts compared to just 16 walks during the streak.
It’s pretty safe to call that a winning formula.