Baseball / Sports

Jose Ramirez delivers game-winner in ninth inning

CLEVELAND -- If Indians manager Terry Francona was interested in seeing how his team would respond to Friday's night error-filled debacle, he didn't have to wait long Saturday.

It only took three innings in Saturday's game against the visiting Houston Astros to determine there was indeed a bit more grief in store. But unlike the previous night's loss when the Indians offense failed to deliver in the clutch due to base-running blunders by veteran utility man Mike Aviles and rookie Tyler Holt, the Indians redeemed themselves in a 3-2 walk-off victory.

Holt was once again at the center of the late action, leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with a pinch-hit single. He advanced to second on Roberto Perez's sacrifice bunt, took third with one out on a wild pitch by reliever Jake Buchanan and scored on Jose Ramirez's game-winning single that gave the Indians their 10th walk-off win of the season, the most in the American League.

But long before all the giddiness ensued, the Astros opened the scoring in the third inning on an RBI single to right field by Jose Altuve that, coupled with the Indians' 100th error of season, turned into a two-run play.

Right fielder Chris Dickerson came up throwing home in an attempt to make a play at the plate. But the ball bounced and skipped past rookie catcher Perez, which wouldn't have been much of a problem except that Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar forgot to back up home plate, allowing Robbie Grossman to score.

But the Indians' offense began to dig out of the hole right away -- with a little help from the Astros. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Ramirez lined a double into the right center-field gap. Michael Brantley snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a single to right.

What should have been a close play at the plate instead went for an RBI for Brantley when Astros starting pitcher Collin McHugh inexplicably cut off the throw a couple feet in front of the catcher.

On the next play, McHugh didn't cover first base in time to take a throw from second baseman Altuve, allowing Santana to reach safely and Brantley to advance to third.

McHugh was so rattled by the back-to-back defensive miscues, he walked Jason Kipnis to load the bases. But McHugh got Zach Walters on a broken-bat liner to the shortstop to end the threat.

The Indians tied the score in the fourth inning when Lonnie Chisenhall led off with his second single of the game, took second on a Dickerson single, third on Perez's sacrifice bunt and then scored on Michael Bourn's RBI groundout.

The Indians were unable to take advantage of another Astros fundamental breakdown in the eighth inning.

After reliever Jose Veras issued a leadoff walk to Santana, Kipnis followed with a fielder's choice. But a leaping, spinning throw by Altuve was high to the shortstop covering the second base bag, and with no one covering third, Santana turned the error into an extra base. But with runners in scoring position at second and third, pinch hitter Aviles struck out to end the threat.

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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