Bob Smizik: Sizzling McCutchen carrying Pirates


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Nobody asked me, but . . .

• The Pirates aren’t an easy team to carry these days, but Andrew McCutchen is doing his best to accomplish that task. The Pirates are 6-4 this month and a lot of that has to do with McCutchen being 16-for-38 (.421) with seven doubles and six home runs.

* The notion that the Penguins’ next general manager will be one of three men currently serving as assistants to newly hired Jim Rutherford makes as much sense as the successor to Sidney Crosby being one of three centers currently playing at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The best man available, not the best man in the organization, should be the Penguins’ next general manager.

• Was the fan who interfered with Jonathan Lucroy’s batted ball Sunday at PNC Park -- which might have cost the Pirates the game -- ejected? If not, why not?

• It wasn’t a work of brilliance, but that was a nice pick-me-up by Brandon Cumpton, who pitched the first five innings last night in the Pirates’ 4-2 win over the Cubs.

• Ike Davis is 1-for-27 for June and 4-for-41 since May 25. Small wonder the Cubs had right-hander Josh Hammel intentionally walk McCutchen to get to the left-handed hitting Davis in the second inning. Davis struck out.

• The Penguins’ curious decision to keep coach Dan Bylsma on after firing General Manager Ray Shero was defended here on the grounds the new general manager might want to keep Bylsma. But with Bylsma being fired about 10 minutes after the hiring of Rutherford and Rutherford saying he did it on the advice of ownership, that defense is withdrawn. The decision to keep Bylsma dangling was bush league to the extreme.

• Tony Sanchez, the man most likely to be the Pirates’ starting catcher in 2015, is hitting .234 but with a .835 OPS in 64 at-bats with Indianapolis. Sanchez has four home runs. He has caught two of 16 runners who have tried to steal and has three errors and three passed balls in 18 games.

• Pitcher Max Scherzer, who turned down a $144 million deal from the Detroit Tigers in March, has a 6.84 ERA in his past four starts.

• With the academic scandal at North Carolina getting dirtier by the day, with the latest charges coming from Rashad McCants, a member of the Tar Heels’ 2005 national championship team, there appears to be ample evidence for the NCAA to investigate and determine whether that title should be vacated.

According to stats from NFLsavant.com, Ben Roethlisberger has not been sacked from the no-huddle offense since 2011. That stretch includes 196 passing attempts in 2012-13.

• NHL vs. NBA: Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final had 6.4 million viewers on NBC, the most-watched Game 2 on record since 1994. Game 2 of the NBA final was watched by 15 million viewers.

• Pirates fans who think their team has an uncommon number of injuries should look at the Cincinnati Reds. Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, their two best hitters, were out from May 4 to May 23 and from May 15 to June 10, respectively. Closer Aroldis Chapman missed the first seven weeks of the season. Mat Latos, one their two best starters, has yet to pitch this season.

• With 2/3 of an inning of scoreless, hitless relief Monday, Joe Beimel of the Seattle Mariners picked up his first MLB win since July 24, 2011, when he was with the Pirates. Beimel, 37, lowered his ERA to 1.86.

• Votto is 20th all-time in on-base percentage, one of only two active players in the top 50. His 2014 on-base percentage is one point lower than Russell Martin’s .410

• If you have no interest in the controversy surrounding the nickname of the Washington team in the NFL, skip to the next item. But if you believe the name is wrong, view this powerful commercial that is airing on NBA games and is sponsored by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation of Northern California.

• Raise your hand if you've ever seen a runner doubled off third on a liner to second -- with no outs. Gregory Polanco might be a rookie, but he's been playing professionally since 2009. The Pirates conducted a clinic on how not to run the bases again last night.


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