CLEVELAND — Youth on a team can be a rollercoaster. There is plenty of frustration due to growing pains but then there are the times when you see them learn from their mistakes and continue to develop.
After an implosion in the final two innings Friday night, the Indians’ rookies came through 24 hours later in a 3-2 win over Houston at Progressive Field.
In the ninth inning, Tyler Holt led off with a single to center and advanced to second on a Roberto Perez bunt. After going to third on a wild pitch, Holt scored with one out on a Jose Ramirez single to left for the Indians’ 10th walk-off win of the season.
"You are going to have some good and bad games. You just have to be ready for whatever is next," Holt said.
On Friday and at second with one out in the eighth, Holt thought he could get the jump on a fastball to steal third. Instead, the pitcher threw a breaking ball and Holt was caught stealing. Holt is known as an aggressive player and the first thing that manager Terry Francona told him after the game was to stay aggressive but also know the situation.
Added Francona: "It was a good time to run (on Friday) but we just want to make sure they don’t get gun shy. I don’t want them looking over their shoulder. Part of the reason he got here was the way he plays."
Francona wasn’t afraid to go to Holt in the ninth inning to pinch hit for Chris Dickerson. Holt also didn’t waste any time as he lined Jake Buchanan’s first pitch into center. It is the second time in five games that Holt has had a key hit as a pinch hitter as he has hit safely in his last five games, going 7 for 15.
Roberto Perez, whose throwing error in the ninth inning on Friday night allowed the Astros to score the winning run, laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move Holt to second. With Yan Gomes on the seven-day disabled list due to a concussion, Perez will be the starting catcher for at least the next four games.
"Friday night was learning but we came out young and hungry tonight," said Perez, who had two sacrifice bunts in the game. "I wasn’t trying to be picky on the second bunt. I was just trying to lay it down and get Tyler to second."
Ramirez, who has become the every day shortstop after the Asdrubal Cabrera trade, struggled at the bottom of the order but has gotten into a groove batting second. Besides the game-winning single on a 3-2 pitch, he was 2 for 5 in the game with a double. He has hits in four of the past five games and is 7 for 19 now that he is regularly at the top of the order.
"I’ve never had a walk-off before so I’m real happy," he said. "In that situation I didn’t try to do too much. I was just trying to put the ball in play and make contact."
If the Indians are to climb further into contention for the final Wild Card spot (they remain five games out), they are going to need to continue to get contributions from the youngsters. Zach Walters has shown a bit of power with five home runs while Danny Salazar had another solid start. The right-hander went six innings and allowed only two runs (one earned) on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Salazar though might have been in line for win if he backed up Perez during the third inning. On Jose Altuve’s single, Jake Marisnick scored from second, but Robbie Grossman scored from first when Chris Dickerson’s throw was wildly offline and went to the backstop.
"We’re not letting it get stressful," Holt said. "They called us up here for a reason. They believe that we can do it. We fit in perfectly and understand our roles and just trying to win."