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Pirates Batter Wood, Herges, but Indians Win

By Garrett Monaghan

Whatever is bothering Kerry Wood, the Indians need their closer to figure things out. Quickly. After blowing back-to-back save opportunities against the Cubs last week, Wood almost gave up a five run lead, along with some help from Matt Herges; but the Indians hung on to beat Pittsburgh 5-4 on Tuesday.

Wood, signed as a free agent in the off-season to take over the closer's job, has been erratic all year, blowing four of his thirteen save opportunities and posting a 5.61 ERA so far. Wood is extremely difficult to hit when healthy; and his recent struggles make me wonder if he's trying to play through a nagging injury that we haven't heard about. When he was with the Cubs, Wood had a reputation of trying to play through injuries he shouldn't have, and we might be seeing an example of similar behavior now. I admire the guy's toughness, but if Wood is hurting, he needs to sit for a bit because right now he's making the ninth inning way too interesting.

The Tribe doesn't seem to have anybody better than Wood to take over the closer's spot right now, so it's unlikely that we'll see a major change in the bullpen unless he's actually hurt. Former first round pick Michael Aubrey was shipped to the Orioles today for a player to be named later, presumably a minor league arm that Mark Shapiro thinks might be able to help out in the second half.

The Indians also acquired 28-year-old righthander Jose Veras from the Yankees for cash today, and optioned Greg Aquino to Columbus. Veras was designated for assignment by the Yankees on June 16, and has a 3-1 record with a 5.96 ERA so far this year. Veras has a good arm, but he's been very wild all season. If he can get the ball over the plate, he could definitely bolster Cleveland's staggering bullpen. If not, we won't be seeing much that we haven't seen already this year.

It's nice to see Mark Shapiro starting to make some moves to bolster the pen, and I think we'll see Mark DeRosa shipped off for pitching in the next few weeks, but as I've said before, it seems like it's already too late for the Tribe this year.