SAN DIEGO -- We've seen this movie before. It was supposed to be Big Papi's night. It was supposed to be the Chicago Cubs' night. We had our All-Star scripts and our All-Star storylines written in our heads. And then ...
As usual, when it was time to hit the big stage Tuesday night, it turned into the Kansas City Royals' show.
It turned into Eric Hosmer's magical All-Star evening. It turned into Salvador Perez's magical All-Star evening. It may have been July, not October, but it all felt very familiar -- two men who have spent so much time on the big stage doing what they've now done so many times.
Hosmer sliced a second-inning homer to left field in the first All-Star at-bat of his life. Two batters later, Perez became the first catcher in Royals history to make an All-Star Game home run trot, bopping a towering two-run bomb to left off his friend, Johnny Cueto. An inning later, Hosmer would single in yet another run, on his way to an All-Star MVP award.
And that was the story of the 2016 All-Star Game: Royals 4, National League 2. And it all made perfect sense -- other than the fact that a team that hit two home runs in the entire World Series changed the All-Star Game with two home runs in the same inning.
"Wow. Crazy," Perez said, with a smile as wide as Coronado Beach, as that news was delivered to his locker. "That's why baseball is crazy. You know that. But crazy good. Yessir."
Crazy good. Yessir. The Royals are full of crazy goodness, every time they need it most. So here is more of the craziness they sprung on the world, on the way to handing home-field advantage to whoever the heck the American League representative in the World Series may turn out to be:
• Never once, in the six seasons and 575 games they had started together as big league teammates, had Hosmer and Perez homered in the same inning of any game -- regular season or postseason. So of course they both went deep in the very first inning in which they both batted in an All-Star Game.
• And who gave up those two homers? Didn't it make perfect, crazy-good sense that it would be Cueto, their teammate on the World Series Express last fall? Only once, in 86 previous All-Star Games, had any player hit a home run off a pitcher he had played with the year before. (The lone instance: Alfonso Soriano homered off Roger Clemens in the 2004 Midsummer Classic.) Then Hosmer and Perez did it in a span of three hitters in this game. Yeah, right. Of course they did.
• And no catcher had ever hit an All-Star home run against a pitcher he'd caught the year before. But you can't say "never" anymore, thanks to Perez's homer. ("Never?" Perez gulped when we passed along that bulletin, then let out a giant laugh. "That's why we're tight, boys.")
• And oh, by the way, this was all very strange on Cueto's end, too. He hadn't given up two home runs in the same inning of a regular-season game since July 8, 2014. That was 70 starts ago.
• Meanwhile, just one other time before this had any set of teammates homered in the same inning of the same All-Star Game, according to research by Elias Sports Bureau. You have to go back more than four decades to find the last time it happened, to Steve Garvey and Jim Wynn hitting long balls off Vida Blue in 1975.
• And finally, how rare is it for two teammates to drive in all the runs for the winning team in any All-Star Game? So rare, according Elias research, that it had never happened before.
But Hosmer and Perez know all about what it takes to do stuff that had never been done. Or stuff that people kept telling them couldn't be done. It's the specialty of their house. And on this night, it was the American League that reaped the benefits, not just the long-suffering citizens of Kansas City.
"I enjoyed that," said AL starter Chris Sale, who had fallen behind, 1-0, on a Kris Bryant homer, before Hosmer and Perez took over. "Because the last time I faced them, those same guys took me deep. So it was nice to see that for me and not against me."
The only two teammates who had even homered in the same game in any of the previous 40 All-Star Games were David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, of the 2004 Red Sox. And it's an excellent bet that Hosmer and Perez won't approach the same orbit as the 1,080 career homers Ortiz and Manny would go on to mash in their careers.
But in their own way, Hosmer and Perez have become the faces of this generation of Royals, much the same way that Papi and Manny were the faces of the curse-busting Red Sox. So for these two men to share this moment, on this night, left both of them with a singular All-Star glow that is going to take a long, long time to fade.
"Couldn't have worked out any better," Hosmer said. "Salvy and I go way back. A lot of you guys know we have been playing this game together for a long time. And to share that experience and have the games we did tonight was really special."
Moments after uttering those words, Hosmer strolled across the clubhouse to his locker, the MVP trophy tucked under his arm. Perez looked up in mid-interview and lurched toward his All-Star co-star, to deliver a high-five and a hug, saying: "What's up, my MVP?"
"Hoz is the best," Perez said, after that little hug break was over. "We play together a lot. And I feel so happy for him and for his family. And now he's MVP, so that's exciting."
Their team has had a frustrating first half, thanks to an onslaught of injuries and rotation issues. But if you've had a tough time looking past the standings, you might have missed something: Both Hosmer and Perez have used that October glory for fuel. They're both headed for the best offensive seasons of their careers. So what they did on this night, on this stage, came as no surprise to their hitting coach.
"It's no surprise to me, because they've done it the last two years," Dale Sveum said. "For them, this might be a much smaller stage.
"This is kind of their setting," the Royals' hitting coach went on. "And I've seen it the last two years. They're just special people when it comes to that stage."
No Royal had hit a home run in an All-Star Game since Bo Jackson in 1989. And before this night, only Bo would know what it took to be an All-Star MVP. But not anymore. Because Hosmer and Perez would turn this into yet one more night when this generation of Royals rose up to rewrite the history of their franchise.
It might not be enough to propel back toward another ride on the parade floats. But no matter where this journey leads them, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez will always have the memories of this crazy-good evening playing on the DVRs in their brains.
Crazy good. Yessir.