The (Sunday) Windup, Cutch class edition

Andrew McCutchen has said he wants to be a role model and inspiration for Black youngsters, the way Ken Griffey Jr. once was for him. When actions back up the words, that’s special.

His little gesture at the end of Saturday night’s game spoke volumes about Cutch. Making a connection with two young fans, returning the love they’d obviously been showering on him all night, captured this unique athlete’s essence. As I watched it live, I was thinking, “Man, what an awesome scene. I hope it doesn’t get lost.”

So am very glad that it has gone viral. MVP — Most Valuable Player, Person — all the way. …

You can’t have short-term reactions in the long-term world of baseball. So it was with Clint Hurdle’s decision to remove Francisco Liriano from his 2-0 shutout on Friday. Those who see it as the only thing now keeping the Bucs from going for a 10th straight win tonight backed Hurdle into a defensive corner.

The skipper cited Liriano’s upcoming Wednesday afternoon assignment in San Francisco as one reason he pulled him after 96 pitches, since he would have shorter than a full four days of recovery time. That makes perfect sense in view of the lefty’s workload history.

Liriano had thrown 112 pitches in his previous outing. The last time he had thrown 100-plus pitches in back-to-back starts was a year ago, on May 30-June 4. And during his Pirates tenure, he has topped 208 pitches in consecutive starts only once (barely, at 212), in July 2013.

Pitch-count cynics won’t agree, but that track record gave Hurdle a pretty sound reason for the hook. As did this: Until Jered Hughes’ command yips led to the Padres’ comeback, the  Hughes-Tony Wilson-Mark Melancon end-game had been money. … 

The Pirates take a 13-3 record against the NL’s other two divisions into tonight’s game. They still have a long stretch to gear up for their next extended run of division games: Only six of the next 35 games are against NL Central foes. …

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