Let’s look at this game as the polar opposite of the first game in this series. On Monday, we played a really bad game, but that fact was overshadowed by a dramatic ninth inning rally and near comeback. On Tuesday, we played a really good one, but a bad ninth inning by Steven Jackson took some of the polish off of it.
Before the Jackson debacle (which I admittedly did not see; Wednesday night is trivia night and I saw at the bar that the Indians shaved the lead down, but that was all I knew until I got home), we got a solid start from Zach Duke and an offense that actually piled runs on Pavano when he clearly didn’t have it tonight, starting with the three-run second, which was mostly a bunch of singles strung together, and punctuating it with the six-run fourth, that saw a couple big hits from Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss, who’ve both been struggling a bit of late (though Moss has shown signs of breaking out of that slump), and a homer from Jason Jaramillo after Pavano was removed.
That was plenty for Zach Duke, even without Adam LaRoche’s homer, and it’s hard to fault JR for getting him out after six innings and only 94 pitches, since he’s been stretched out quite a bit this year. He still picked up his eighth win of the year and I know that wins are meaningless, but it still kind of boggles my mind a little. He’s got to be this team’s All-Star right now (actually, it’ll probably be Freddy Sanchez again), and the fact that he would actually deserve that honor after all the crap he’s worked through in past few years really says something about the guy, I think.
Maybe beating up on Carl Pavano isn’t that impressive, but this is a team that’s been shut down by Mike Hampton repeatedly this year. We just made David Huff look like a young, left-handed Greg Maddux one night ago. The best thing you can ask for when you’re in a slump like the Pirates is a laugher, and they got one tonight, final score notwithstanding.