To begin with, near comeback against a terrible bullpen is no reason to get excited about what was an otherwise terrible baseball game. We’ll get to said comeback in a minute, but first we should focus on the terrible parts.
If we’re going to do that, Ian Snell is certainly the place to start. Yes, Steve Pearce played some awful defense that got Snell into hotter water than he deserved to be in in the third inning, but without any ability to throw a breaking ball for a strike (PitchFX puts him down for just 8 of 20 sliders in the strike zone), the runs that scored on Pearce’s misplay would’ve scored anyways. With the bases loaded, Jhonny Peralta up, and the count even at 2-2, Bob Walk remarked, “Well, you know Ian’s going to try and pound the outside corner with his fastball now.” He did, and Peralta watched the pitch go outside for ball three. Being forced to put the next pitch over the plate, Peralta hit a two-run single and Snell’s night was over very early.
Complicating things was another struggling pitcher dominating the Pirates. David Huff is a decent prospect, but he certainly was having his share of trouble with the Indians before slicing through the Pirates for eight innings tonight, allowing just four hits in the process. If he hadn’t needed 112 pitches, he would’ve easily finished the shutout.
As it went, though, he did need 112 pitches and with a 5-0 lead, Eric Wedge didn’t see any need to have him finish the game. That was a nearly disastrous decision that lead to Adam LaRoche standing at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in a 5-4 game before just missing Kerry Wood’s 3-2 fastball and flying out to right field to end the rally and the inning. The rally had a bit of everything; LaRoche homered to start the inning, Jack Wilson and Andrew McCutchen had huge singles, and McCutchen got far enough into Wood’s head that he managed to walk both Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez before finally putting the fire out. Particularly impressive was Moss’s second big pinch-hit in as many games (which means he’s still hitting well after his four-hit outing on Saturday, even if JR won’t play him against lefties) and McCutchen’s at-bat against Wood, leading to an RBI single on a night he was previously 0-for-4.
All that said, a rally against Matt Herges and Kerry Wood really isn’t all that impressive, especially on a night when so many other things went wrong.