KANSAS CITY -- Bruce Chen led the Royals in wins the past three years, but he started the season in the bullpen. Since moving back to the rotation on July 12, he's proved he's still got it, going 2-0 in five starts with a 1.14 ERA.
"He's just been as sharp as a tack since he came back, even in his first game," manager Ned Yost said. "He continues to have that consistency every time out."
Chen has worked at least six innings in all five of his starts this season and allowed just four earned runs in that span. With a 5-0 season record, this is his best start since he was also 5-0 for the Braves and Phillies 13 years ago.
"I'm feeling comfortable and I'm feeling good, but most importantly, I'm doing everything I can to help this team win," Chen said. "I'm just glad that I'm able to do it as a starter and I'm glad I'm able to do it so far so well. I just want to keep it going so I can help this team any way I can."
Chen, a 36-year-old veteran, said he benefitted from the early season rest where he worked 33 2/3 innings in 19 appearances before moving into the rotation.
"I'm feeling good," Chen said. "This is the best I've felt in the past two or three years. Hopefully I can keep going."
Perez feeling great, hopes to return Sunday
KANSAS CITY -- Royals catcher Salvador Perez continued to feel good in his recovery from a low-grade concussion sustained last Saturday in New York.
"They're letting me go outside today. I think I'm going to catch a bullpen [session]," Perez said on Friday afternoon. "I might hit in the cage -- maybe. We'll see."
Manager Ned Yost said later that Perez did both and he came out just fine.
In the meantime, George Kottaras and recently recalled Brett Hayes are sharing the catching duties.
"They've done a great job." Yost said. "They really have, and that is always your fear, because he is a big part of our club. But to continue moving forward without him -- and thank God it's only going to be a week or a little bit longer -- they've done a great job holding it down until Sal can get back."
Perez could be eligible to return Sunday against the Red Sox, but he needs to pass an ImPACT concussion test, a necessary step to return to playing.
"He's got to be right on it," Yost said. "There ain't no ifs, ands or wobbles or anything. He's got to be back to being normal. And if he's normal, I ain't sitting him."
Scoring change nets Gordon, Cain additional hit
KANSAS CITY -- Even before Friday night's game, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain each picked up a hit.
Scoring changes from Sunday's 6-2 victory in New York were made upon appeal to Major League Baseball. The decisions stemmed from scoring decisions made on an afternoon in which the fielders had problems picking up the baseball in the sun.
Originally, Cain's pop-up that fell beside Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy in the second inning was called an error. The same held true for Gordon's fifth-inning drive that fell off right fielder Marlon Byrd's glove.
Another "sun ball" missed by Byrd in the fifth inning was ruled a double for David Lough and the Royals contended, for consistency's sake, that all three should be hits and MLB agreed. Gordon gained two points on his average to .265 and Cain gained three points to .261.
Royals sport fashionable hats in batting practice
KANSAS CITY -- There was a new fashion touch to the Royals' uniforms during batting practice on Friday -- caps with the player's name across the crown and his number on the bill.
It was courtesy of Luis Mendoza's wife, Monica, who had a friend, Luis Esquer, make up the personalized caps in Mexico. She got similar caps for Mexico's players in the Caribbean Series last winter, and the team won the championship and her husband was the MVP.
Perhaps the gesture will bring luck to the Royals as well.
"It's good for the rhythm and the harmony of the team," Mendoza said.
Indeed, the players wore them happily during practice and had some fun with them, too.
Somehow catcher George Kottaras' cap wasn't in the shipment so he borrowed pitcher Ervin Santana's cap. Not only that, he wore Santana's jersey during BP as well.
Presumably the guy wearing the Santana jersey on the mound Friday night against the Red Sox would be the real Santana and Kottaras would be behind the plate.
Royals' success has fans tuning in on television
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are red-hot, and fans are responding with record television ratings.
Thursday night's 5-1 win vs. the Red Sox averaged an 11.4 household rating in the Kansas City market according to Nielsen and topped the previous high, which was 10.2 on Monday against Minnesota. Thursday's broadcast peaked at a 13.8 rating (128,000 households).
Royals telecasts on Fox Sports Kansas City are averaging a 6.2 rating in 2013, which is a 60 percent improvement since last season.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.