KANSAS CITY -- In the top of the third inning of Tuesday night's game against the Rangers, Royals catcher Salvador Perez became the first catcher in baseball to pick off three runners this season.
Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler led off the frame with a double before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus. On the second pitch of the at-bat to Josh Hamilton, Perez snapped a throw down to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who placed the tag on Kinsler for the inning's second out.
"I knew I had Hamilton hitting, a lefty, and I took an opportunity to save that run for my pitcher," Perez said. "After the first pitch, I looked at Moose, and he knew [Kinsler] was way off the base. He got a big, big lead, and Moose gave me the sign. I said, 'OK, yeah, we'll do it.' The next pitch, we got him."
The pickoff was a big play, as the Rangers boasted a 2-0 lead at the time. It erased a potential third Texas run from scoring, and the Royals tied the game in the bottom half of the inning.
"It gave me a big boost," winning pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said. "I was out there scuffling, not locating two-strike pitches and leaving them over the plate. And then Salvy gets that guy out, and we've got a big hitter at the plate that's more than likely to get a fly ball deep and score that third run. After that I was able to relax and get into a groove."
"He didn't do the fundamental thing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Kinsler. "He had his shoulders square to home plate. He should have been sideways so he could get back to the bag."
Perez's Major League-leading third pickoff matches his total from last season. His first pickoff of the 2012 season came July 7 at Detroit, when he nailed Ryan Raburn at first base. Perez also picked off Matt Joyce at first base on Aug. 21 at Tampa Bay.
Perez nailed two runners in his Major League debut on Aug. 10, 2011, at Tampa Bay and picked off Tyler Flowers in a game against Chicago on Sept. 15.
"It seems like he does that all the time. It's pretty amazing," Royals outfielder Alex Gordon said. "He's one of the best catchers I've ever played with, the way he moves back there and just handles the game."
After the game, Perez was happy to hear he was the top pickoff man in the game.
"I'm the leader in pickoffs? Very good," Perez laughed. "I didn't know that."
Teaford, Mazzaro to go Wednesday vs. Rangers
KANSAS CITY -- While Luke Hochevar was an option to start against the Rangers on Wednesday night on short rest, Royals manager Ned Yost decided against it.
Hochevar lasted just 1 2/3 innings and 63 pitches on Saturday night in an 8-7 loss to the Twins in the second game of a doubleheader. So Yost gave some thought to bringing the right-hander back on just three days' rest, but dropped the idea after seeing Hochevar throw in a side session.
"We'd be pushing this a little bit," Yost said. "Especially going in September, these guys need four days."
Instead, Everett Teaford and Vin Mazzaro will come out of the bullpen to share the pitching in Wednesday night's game. Hochevar will go against the Rangers on Thursday night and rookie Will Smith will be passed over in this turn of the rotation.
Yost added that, as of now, he has no plans to shut down any pitchers early. Last year, the Royals ended the seasons of Hochevar and Danny Duffy prematurely because of number of innings pitched.
Jeffress returns for third stint with Kansas City
KANSAS CITY -- Jeremy Jeffress' stay away from the Royals didn't last long.
Kansas City recalled the right-hander from Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday -- eight days after optioning Jeffress to make room for Vin Mazzaro. With the Naturals' season ending on Monday, Jeffress was eligible to return to the big league club.
This marks Jeffress' third stint with the Royals this season. In all, he's appeared in eight games, allowing two unearned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He's struck out eight and walked six.
"This year, yeah, I've liked what I've seen," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's making great improvements. He's much more consistent in the strike zone, which has always been something he's needed to work on. He's throwing strikes at a much higher rate with all of his pitches, which is good. His stuff is excellent. It's just been a matter of command and execution, and he's been much more consistent with that."
Verdugo, Falu among Minors Award winners
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals announced their Minor League Award winners for the month of August on Wednesday.
At Triple-A Omaha, left-handed pitcher Ryan Verdugo went 5-1 in six August starts, earning Pitcher of the Month honors. Infielder Irving Falu was named Player of the Month after batting .341 in August with 12 extra-base hits and 23 runs scored.
Other award winners for the Royals' affiliates:
Northwest Arkansas (Double-A) -- Outfielder Yem Prades, right-hander Ethan Hollingsworth.
Wilmington (High Class A) -- Infielder Orlando Calixte, right-hander Andy Ferguson.
Kane County (Class A) -- Infielder Justin Trapp, right-hander Cody Fassold.
Idaho Falls (Rookie) -- Infielder Diego Goris, right-hander Cory Hall.
Burlington (Rookie) -- Infielder Mark Threlkeld, right-hander Christian Binford.
Surprise (Rookie) -- Infielder Ramon Torres, right-hander Ashton Goudeau.
Dominican (Rookie) -- Infielder Wander Franco, right-hander Andres Machado.
B-Royals lose heartbreaker in Appy League final
KANSAS CITY -- The Burlington Royals were one out away from an Appalachian League championship on Monday night, but they suffered a heartbreaking loss to drop the best-of-three series.
Down 6-1 with two outs in the ninth, the opposing Elizabethton Twins tied it and later won the title on a walk-off grand slam in the 12th inning.
The loss denied Burlington its first rookie league title. All three games in the series went into extra innings, and Royals top prospect Bubba Starling homered in all three games.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.