When the opportunity presented itself, Francisco Lindor took advantage to wipe away the thought of his costly defensive blunder.
Despite committing an error in the heat of the game, Lindor hit two home runs to spearhead the Indians offense as part of a 9-6 win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday evening from Globe Life Park in Arlington.
"It says a lot about his competitiveness," said manager Terry Francona about Lindor. "Sometimes you gotta just give yourself a chance."
In the series sweep, Francona's ballclub registered eight of their 21 runs in the ninth inning alone. The last time Cleveland had three consecutive victories to start the year was in 1998, when they won the first six games of the campaign.
"I just was hoping we'd win today," Francona said of the strong beginning to the season. "It's just three games. Normally, we just try to show up and win."
Error detracts from Salazar's outing
The Tribe was leading 3-2 with runners at first and second, two outs and a 1-2 count on Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth inning. One pitch later, Choo grounded a routine groundball to the shortstop that would have been an inning-ending force out had Jose Ramirez been present at the bag. Instead, Lindor fired an unexpected throw that Edwin Encarnacion was not prepared to catch, allowing two runs to score in what shaped out to be a game-defining moment.
"I knew that if I caught the ball, I was going to have a chance at second, but then I moved a little to my right and I just never made it there," said Lindor. "That can't happen. It [doesn't] matter how many games I play in the big leagues, how many games we got this year. That cannot happen."
"He made a mistake; he knew it," Francona said. "Instead of putting his tail in his legs, he competed the rest of the game and that was good to see."
Aside from the defensive miscue, Salazar showcased his wide array of put-away pitches and struck out nine of the 24 batters he faced. Nomar Mazara tallied the remaining damage on Salazar's ledger with a two-run homer in the first and RBI single in the fifth.
Lindor redeems himself
Although he was accountable for the lone unearned run charged to Salazar, Lindor made up for his mistake with a solo home run off Cole Hamels in the next half inning to cut the deficit to 5-4. From that point until the beginning of the ninth inning, Cleveland batted .111 (1-for-9) and left four men on base, three of which were in scoring position.
The game underwent a drastic change in the final frame.
After surrendering three runs in his two-thirds of an inning on Opening Day, Sam Dyson's woes continued in his second outing.
Dyson gave up a single to Yandy Diaz, single to Tyler Naquin, walk to Abraham Almonte and walk to Carlos Santana before Lindor stepped in to the box with a chance to change the complexion of the contest.
On a 1-1 count, the Rangers closer left a 94-mph fastball over the middle of the plate and paid the price. Lindor launched the go-ahead grand slam, the first of his young career.
"I just wanted Salazar not to get the loss. It was hurting me the whole entire time," said Lindor. "We were very consistent in this week out here. It was very consistent the way the guys battled each at-bat (and) worked the counts. It was fun to watch. It was fun to be a part of."
Leading up to Lindor's pair of blasts, Ramirez plated two on a single and Roberto Perez lifted a sacrifice fly in his first action of 2017.
"It shows what we're capable of," Lindor said. "If you stay in the game and you battle pitch after pitch and you believe in yourself, it shows that you can come back and win."
Zach McAllister threw a scoreless inning of relief and Shawn Armstrong struck out Jonathan Lucroy to earn his first MLB victory. Bryan Shaw took care of the closer duties and got the save with Cody Allen and Andrew Miller getting the night off.
"I was just blessed to come in (and) have an opportunity to pitch, just kind of get the first one out of the way," said Armstrong in regards to his 2017 debut and first career win. "For [Francona] to get me in the game like that, it's a very fortunate thing. Like I said, I'm just blessed to be able to get in there and pitch."
The Indians will take the day off before playing the Diamondbacks on Friday at 9:40 pm ET from Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz.
Josh Tomlin and Shelby Miller are slated to make their season debuts to commence the three-game weekend series.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.