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First Call: Pirates whiff, punter flips, Loaiza’s plea |
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: Pirates whiff, punter flips, Loaiza’s plea

Tim Benz
| Tuesday, August 7, 2018 7:18 a.m
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Pirate Elias Diaz reacts after popping out with two runners on to end the Pirates' half of the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Aug. 6, 2018.

In “First Call” this Tuesday, the Pirates bats have gone silent. A diva punter. An update on the Esteban Loaiza drug case. And no update to speak of regarding Aaron Donald.

Where’s the offense?

Remember all of that offense from Pirates batters during their 11-game winning streak?

Nah. Me neither.

It feels like a long time ago, because the Pirates are struggling at the plate now. The Bucs have scored just one run in their last 23 innings. They’ve totaled only seven hits in their last two games.

Last night, the Pirates were 2-0 losers in Colorado. That’s right, they were shut out at Coors Field. That’s tough to do.

They haven’t been shutout in Denver since 2002. In eight out of 12 outings that Joe Musgrove has pitched, the Buccos have failed to get more than two runs of support for him.

Heck, he had one of the two hits himself.

Take that Ohtani!

Shohei Ohtani isn’t the only two-way star in the American League. As ESPN points out, White Sox infielder Matt Davidson made his third pitching appearance of the year.

So, on one hand, good for Davidson. On the other, how bad are the White Sox that they’ve needed to turn to a position player to pitch three times?

Well, the answer is 30 games under .500. They are 41-71 after last night’s 7-0 loss to the Yankees.

Maybe they should pitch Davidson more often. He hasn’t allowed a run in any of his three appearances. He even recorded a strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton last night.

Speaking of Ohtani, Angels manager Mike Scioscia says the right-hander is throwing from 120 feet. Via a Scioscia quote from the AP, Ohtani is “probably closer to getting on the mound than (the team) thought last week.”

The punters are divas now, too?

Denver punter Marquette King …

… got into a verbal confrontation with a talk show host who was critical of him.

King was completely disengaged during an interview, so the hosts on 104.3 cut it short after just 90 seconds.

Listen around the 4:00 mark.

One of their co-workers — Darren McKee — was critical of how King handled himself. So, King confronted McKee in person and had to be pulled away by Denver’s media relations staff.

I repeat, he’s a punter.

But former Steeler wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders decided he should chime in with support.

Loaiza update

Former Pirate pitcher Esteban Loaiza is reportedly going to plead guilty in that cocaine case he has been linked to.

Loaiza initially pled not guilty to charges of attempting to distribute 44 pounds — that’s “pounds” — of cocaine in February.

But WLS in Chicago now says he will enter a guilty plea on Friday. A straight conviction could have resulted in 10 years behind bars to life in prison. No word yet on whether he is still facing jail time.

Still no Donald

Pitt product Aaron Donald is continuing his holdout in Los Angeles.

The Rams defensive tackle needs to report to training camp by Tuesday or else he won’t gain a year of accrued time toward unrestricted free agency.

But, as Pro Football Talk points out , he’d probably get a mega offer sheet in restricted free agency anyway. So that concern has been rendered moot.

If he doesn’t show up by Thursday though, he’ll lose $400,000. He could lose a total of $3.2 million if he shows up on the eve of Week 1.

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