Francisco the Great!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 02:30 AM Written by 

 

Nobody asked me, but . . .

 

* Another spectacular performance by Francisco Liriano last night against San Diego -- seven innings no runs, four hits, two walks, 13 strikeouts. Liriano won't win the Cy Young because of the otherworldly season of Clayton Kershaw. But he'll get some votes and at the same time he has to be in the talk, unusual for a pitcher, as Pirates MVP.

 

* The one thing you absolutely and positively do not want to see in the first quarter of an exhibition game: Ben Roethlisberger being tackled -- twice.

 

* Jon Gruden has a bad word to say about almost no one. So when he spent some time badmouthing the play of Maurkice Pouncey last night it kind of makes you take notice. The well-regarded ProFootballFocus.com has long held Pouncey in much lower esteem than other sources.

 

* Imagine the uproar is this happened in MLB. The Washington Redskins have had eight drug suspensions since 2011. If that happened in baseball, it would be leading SportsCenter every hour. When it happens in the NFL, it barely gets mentioned.

 

* Liriano had a pitcher’s dream come true in the fourth inning last night and I’m not talking about getting nine of the first 11 outs on strikeouts. I’m talking about bases loaded, two out and Ronny Cedeno coming to the plate.

 

* If Le’Veon Bell doesn’t watch himself, he’s going to have a new first name: Injury-Prone Le’Veon Bell. He left the game last night with his third injury in two weeks. This time it is mid-foot.

 

* When I first saw Starling Marte was out of the lineup last night, I figured he was injured. But I was kinda hoping he was being disciplined for the outrageously stupid decision to try to steal third base against Arizona Sunday.

 

* ESPN is counting down the top 100 players -- offense and defense -- in the NFL. The rankings thus far are 91-100 and two Steelers are mentioned on offense -- Heath Miller, 91, and Antonio Brown, 95.  No. 99 on defense is the Cincinnati Bengals James Harrison.

 

* Pat Bostick, the former Pitt quarterback and now Pitt color analyst, should know better. He said on The Fan yesterday that Pitt’s close games with Notre Dame and Louisville should be taken into consideration when viewing the Panthers’ 6-7 record last year. As should Pitt’s loss to Youngstown State. 6-7 is 6-7.

 

* I hear a ton of criticism about third-base coaches in general and Nick Leyva in particular. Question: Of the 1,129 runs scored in the past two seasons by the Pirates, how many times has anyone been heard to utter, `Nice job by the third-base coach?’

 

* WAR should not be an issue in the American League MVP race this season, although I see it being raised in some circles. Yes, Mike Trout is the best player in the AL. But he certainly is not the most valuable. To paraphrase Branch Rickey, the Angels could be 16 games out of first place without Trout. The Detroit Tigers would not seven games in first place without Miguel Cabrera.

 

* What a tremendously athletic play by Washington’s linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to leap and catch, while he was rushing the passer, a ball thrown by Roethlisberger and rumble in for a touchdown.

 

* The performance of Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco, 21, at Class AA is highly encouraging. After struggling just a bit, which was to be expected, Polanco is batting .286 with an OPS over .800. I was dubious about Polanco being able to help the Pirates next season, but it’s not out of the question.

 

* How does MLB put itself into the position where umpires have to approve any changes in the replay rule?

 

* Jonathan Dwyer ran like a running back trying to make the team, which he is, against the Redskins last night. The slimmed-down Dwyer looked nimble and roster-worthy, but I’m guessing Mike Tomlin didn’t like that second-quarter fumble.

 

* In addition to a power bat at right field or first base, the Pirates also could use a right-handed hitting utility infielder, preferably one with a bit of power -- what Brandon Inge was supposed to be -- who could spell Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker.

 

* Interesting bit of information from Jay Jaffe at SI.com. Noting the batting average of balls in play for the Pirates pitching staff has gone from .277 to .334 since the All-Star game, he wrote, ``that has something to do with the offense/defense tradeoff of playing Jordy Mercer (.277/.331/.402, −1 Defensive Runs Saved) instead of Clint Barmes (.226/.269/.318, +9 DRS) at shortstop.’’

 

 

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