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What the Snell is going on?

A key for the Pirates this year will be starting pitcher Ian Snell.

Tuesday, he proved it.

Snell was shelled for eight runs in four innings in a 9-3 loss to the Cardinals, bringing back memories of many starts in 2008.

He finished last year with a 5.42 ERA after sporting a 3.76 ERA the previous season.

One problem Snell had last year was with left-handed hitters, who combined to hit .314 off him. That, and Snell's road ERA last season (6.22) was a recipe for disaster.

And a disaster it was.

The Cards' Chris Duncan proved Snell's not over his lefty problem with a two-run shot.

Then the Bucs showed they weren't over their Albert Pujols problem when he sent a Snell pitch over the wall. It was Pujols' fifth career blast off Snell.

Let's remember one thing: It's one start, so a lot can change.

Many pitchers have been hammered in their first start this season (CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Webb), so things can turn around.

However, with a poor season from Snell in the not-too distant past, the Bucs need to hope it's the end of his problems and not a continuation of them.


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I never understood the Steelers' fascination with their backup quarterbacks.

They've had either Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for what seems like ages now.

And when the Steelers really needed a backup, Leftwich couldn't deliver.

Leftwich rambled 31 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Ravens, but other than that burst, the Steelers couldn't do anything on offense in a 13-10 loss that puts them in a bad position in the AFC North.

Leftwich, with his long delivery, looks better suited for the Pirates' bullpen than behind center.

He went 18-for-39 passing for 201 yards, but couldn't help a Steelers' offense that looks lost right now.

The Ravens came into the game with a weak defense. The thought was Leftwich could manage the game, the Steelers could find a running back to rely on and they'd escape with a win.

It didn't work out that way.

And it looks like we could see Batch at QB this week -- or someone else.

The Steelers are worried about Leftw…