PHOENIX -- Yadiel Rivera is supposed to be a defense-first infield prospect for the Brewers, but he spent the weekend playing the role of power hitter.The Milwaukee bench candidate hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning for the second straight day, this time sending the Brewers to a
PHOENIX -- Yadiel Rivera is supposed to be a defense-first infield prospect for the Brewers, but he spent the weekend playing the role of power hitter.
The Milwaukee bench candidate hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning for the second straight day, this time sending the Brewers to a 6-5 walkoff win over the Indians on Sunday at Maryvale Baseball Park.
On Saturday, Rivera hit a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning against the A's in a game that ended with the teams tied, 8-8. On Sunday, Rivera hit his walkoff shot leading off the bottom of the ninth inning against Indians left-handed pitching prospect Ryan Merritt.
Rivera, 23 years old and the No. 23 ranked Brewers prospect, achieved his status with his glovework at shortstop, not with his bat.
"It's probably always been there," Rivera said of his sudden power. "Now it's getting out. ... When the game's that close, you're just trying to get on base or get a base hit. You're probably locked in a little bit more in that at-bat.
"That's what I've been doing my whole career -- play through the whole game and try to win the game."
Said Brewers manager Craig Counsell: "Spring Training or not, two ninth-inning, go-ahead homers, that's rare. You don't see that. I've never seen it."
For the Indians, Collin Cowgill homered off Brewers starter Matt Garza, and Mike Napoli and Joey Butler smacked two-run home runs in the sixth inning as the Indians built a 5-3 lead. But the Brewers came back with two runs in the seventh inning to set-up Rivera's winning home run in the ninth.
Napoli's homer was his first for his new team.
"[Napoli] continues to impress all of us," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a guy who's played a long time, but even after the home run he wanted to stay and get another at-bat. We talk to our guys all the time about, 'Hey, help us get you ready for the season,' and he goes, 'I needed that at-bat.' I like that stuff. He came to play."
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was sharp in his spring debut. He pitched two scoreless innings and allowed one hit.
For the Brewers, Aaron Hill was credited with a steal of home on a third-inning double steal. Ruben Flores and Chris Carter added an RBI apiece, with Carter connecting against Indians rotation candidate Cody Anderson for his second home run in the Cactus League.
"It's just all about getting the barrel on the ball right now and having good quality at-bats," Carter said. "[Hill] was telling me before I went up there about what [Anderson] had, and that he was sneaky quick so I had better be ready."
Up next for Indians: Right-hander Danny Salazar, who is slated to be Cleveland's No. 3 starter, is scheduled to make his second Cactus League start of the spring in a 3:05 p.m. ET road game against the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz. Salazar struck out five in his two-inning spring debut. Closer Cody Allen is also penciled in to pitch for the Indians. An audio webcast of the game will be available on Indians.com.
Up next for Brewers: The last of the Brewers' five projected starting pitchers will make his Cactus League debut Monday, when Taylor Jungmann takes the mound against the Padres at Maryvale Baseball Park. Jungmann threw an inning against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee last week, but this will be his first outing against big league hitters, and a more official start to Jungmann's sophomore season. Andrew Cashner starts for San Diego in the 2:05 p.m. CT game, which will be televised on MLB.TV.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.