One could point to a number of factors for Royals starter Danny Duffy's effectiveness this season.
His composure on the mound, the decrease in walks per nine innings and an extra year of experience have certainly contributed to Duffy's 2.60 ERA in 11 starts.
But the way Duffy sees it, All-Star catcher Salvador Perez deserves the credit.
"I've just been kind of following Salvy. He calls a great game and I'm just trusting my stuff, trying to make it simple," said Duffy, who takes the mound in the series finale Sunday against the Indians.
There are few disagreements, few reasons for Duffy to shake off a sign from Perez.
"I rarely shake him. And if I do and he feels strongly about something, he'll put it down again. If I shake him again, he'll come out and talk to me about why I want to throw what I want to throw," Duffy said. "But it rarely happens.
"We know each other pretty well. I've been throwing to him since I was barely 18 and he was barely 18. We still have pictures of us then -- my mom does. She loves Salvy.
They first connected in 2007 at Surprise, Ariz., in the Rookie Arizona League. They've been teammates on and off in the Royals' system ever since.
"He knows how I like to pitch and he knows who I am mentally, and we just click. He's a great dude, a great backstop," Duffy said.
Duffy flips the page on an exceptional month of June. He made six starts (37 1/3 innings) and posted a 1.69 ERA with 31 strikeouts, which followed a 1-4 May.
Corey Kluber opposes Duffy for the Indians.
He took the tough-luck loss last time out, allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings against the Dodgers on Monday. But the offense could not spot him anything as Cleveland fell, 1-0.
"That's part of the game," Kluber said. "You sometimes run into a buzz saw and other guys have great games. You can't really second-guess or complain about that. You've just got to tip your hat to the other guys."
The last time Kluber faced the Royals, Kansas City tagged him for six runs (three earned) in five innings.
Royals: How long will shuffle last?
In an effort to boost run production, manager Ned Yost dropped designated hitter Billy Butler into the sixth slot and elevated Perez into the three-hole -- where Butler had been batting -- in Kansas City's 7-3 loss Saturday.
Simple reason: Perez has been hot, Butler has not.
As he does with most changes, Yost put a "we'll go day to day" label on this move. Mostly, it'll depend on how it works and if Butler comes out of his hitting funk.
Perez went 1-for-4 on Saturday, while Butler collected a pair of singles.
"I still feel he's capable of being the Billy that we had. He hasn't really been," Yost said. "But you look at his numbers and there for a month, he got his average up to the .280s and he was hitting a bunch of doubles. The power, the home runs aren't there but his doubles input was good, he was getting his base hits and driving in runs."
Indians: Swisher contributes despite slump
After striking out in his first two at bats, Nick Swisher delivered a big two-run fifth-inning single in Cleveland's win on Saturday.
Swisher, who's batting .195 this season, an MLB-low for qualified hitters, put the Indians up, 5-1.
Swisher took extra batting practice before Friday's series opener with the Royals.
"More work is better. You can always rest," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You've got to be so strong mentally to be an everyday player in our game."
• The Royals are 24-19 away from Kauffman Stadium this season compared to a losing record, 21-22, at home.
• On May 21, the Royals were just 5-15 against American League Central foes. With Saturday night's loss, they are now 17-18 inside their own division.
• The Indians snapped a 1-5 slide over their last six home games, during which they were outscored 40-21 and batted .182 (8-for-44) with RISP.
• With a couple of hits Saturday, Lonnie Chisenhall raised his average with runners on base to .382 this season, which and leads the AL.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.