PITTSBURGH — If Andrew McCutchen is playing his final homestand in a Pirates uniform, he’s sure making it count.

McCutchen hit his first career grand slam as part of a two-home run, eight-RBI performance in the Pirates 10-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

McCutchen single and scored in the first, doubled and scored in the fifth and hit a three-run home run in the seventh, but the biggest swing came in the second inning, when he sent a pitch 412 feet — imagine that — into the right-center field stands at PNC Park.

McCutchen was feted with a curtain call not once but twice and then received a standing ovation when he was removed from the game by manager Clint Hurdle in the top of the seventh inning.

It was a fitting tribute for the performance McCutchen had put on display: 4-for-4, four runs, two home runs and eight RBIs — the most by a Pirates player since Jason Bay in 2004.

“I thought it was appropriate at the time, in front of the hometown crowd, last homestand,” Hurdle said. “It’s a special night. The fans were very appreciative. He’s done a lot of wonderful things here on the North Shore. Tonight was a very, very special night for him.”

It was a special night, but not just for McCutchen’s performance. His nine-year career in Pittsburgh is to closer to its end than it is the beginning. After being the subject of trade rumors last season, McCutchen has already been suggested as a potential trade piece for the Pirates this winter.

There’s no telling the odds of McCutchen playing more than one more game — Wednesday’s finale — in a home uniform at PNC Park. But there’s at least a chance that Tuesday night was his penultimate performance.

“We’ve still got a game tomorrow, so it was awesome, but I’m like, ‘Shoot, I’m trying to have another good game tomorrow, too,’” McCutchen said of the curtain calls and the ovation. “It’s awesome to be able to come off the field (like that).”

But he said that he hadn’t thought of it as being his potential last homestand as a Pirates player.

“It hasn’t crossed my mind, really,” he said. “I don’t really let that creep in at all. There’s five games left. I’m just trying to finish those five games.”

If it was McCutchen’s big moment as a Pirate at home, it will remain a memorable one, both for McCutchen and the 19,318 in attendance. McCutchen said those big moments are one of the things he’ll remember from his time in Pittsburgh.

“It’s our nature as human beings. When you have a great night, you just feel like you can do it again. You just want it. You want to do it again and replicate it over and over and over. That’s how I feel. You have a good night, you can do it again. You cherish all the good days and the bad ones. You’ll have more bad ones than good ones, that’s for sure. When you have a good one, it’s something special.”

It’s fitting that the fans at PNC Park were such a part of McCutchen’s big night, because in his time in Pittsburgh, he has been a reason for many to come to the ballpark night in and night out.

“He’s been a linchpin at times,” Hurdle said. “He was the first guy that pushed it all in, contractually. The contract was a good contract for everybody, but there were commitments on both sides and he was vocal in the fact that he wanted to be here. He wanted to be a part of the turnaround. He wanted to experience that as a Pirate. His commitment level hasn’t wavered as far as work and the want-to, the desire to win.”

Hurdle recalled an anecdote from when McCutchen won the 2012 Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year Award. During his acceptance speech, he told a joke about how he’d become a full-fledged Pittsburgher.

“I finally got to the point where they don’t call me Larry Fitzgerald anymore,” McCutchen said at the time, and Hurdle said that just shows how in-tune he had already become with the city around him.

“That’s hilarious,” Hurdle said. “I don’t care who you are. That’s funny. That kinda summed it up. He’s got an intent work desire. He’s a very funny guy. The smile, so many times during the seven-year period, has said it all.”

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35 COMMENTS

  1. They already made one dumb move bringing back Hurdle…..I’m ok with Huntington, but resigning him would be a big mistake. He’s had 2 good months each of the last 2 years. Trade him now while value is still pretty high. Need to retool this roster and include Cole as someone who could bring back a decent hitter.

  2. You guys are awesome, one good game is all I takes. I was yes, drive that trade value up not let’s gamble on a guy who has had two good months.

    • It is obvious that Cutch is the only star player the Bucs have right now. Bell will be in a few years, and Marte will come back. JHay is a sparkplug, but everyone else has more questions than guaranteed upside. The only way Cutch should be traded this winter is if management opts for a total teardown and rebuild, which runs counter to their stated goal and intentions. Otherwise the 2018 team is much better with Cutch than without him.
      My forecast on the 2018 team composition:
      OF: Cutch, Marte, Polanco, Luplow
      1B: Bell
      2B: JHay
      SS: Mercer
      3B: TBD – best power hitter available and signable
      C: Cervelli
      Bench: Diaz, Frazier, Serpico, Freese
      SP: Cole, Taillon, Williams, Kuhl, Brault
      RP: Nightmare, Kontos, Schugel, Never, Glasnow, X, Y
      This implies that Nova is traded and Hudson is dumped. X or Y could be Kingham if he doesn’t have another year granted in the minors.
      The positions most in need of upgrade are in order: 3B, SS and C. Given the need to keep Cutch the only one the Bucs will be able to address is 3B.

      • If they try to compete in 2018, I agree that’s the best roster we could throw out there. But when you look at that roster – how many wins do you see? What is fundamentally different from the current team that is on pace to win fewer than 75 games?

        I want to compete in 2018, but that team does not look positioned to succeed.

        • Honestly, I think 90+ wins. Reasons:
          1) Mostly same starters but most are still on the upswing in their career. I expect the starting rotation to average about 0.5 runs per game less.
          2) The bullpen will be better. I didn’t add up all the losses attributable to the bullpen, but certainly more than a dozen. I’d say there is probably a net 6 win pick up here.
          3) I expect Marte, Polanco (helped by Luplow’s presence) to provide a much better offensive outfield.
          4) I think the Bucs add power at 3B, combined with a marginal improvement from Bell helps the Bucs in the power department
          Now if their performance remains the same next year as this, then obviously they’ll get the same result. But I see this year as a negative deviation from the mean so to speak and expect regression to the mean to take place next year, in a positive direction.

  3. Cutch was clutch! Glad to see what might have been his last PNC home stand go this way. When all is said and done, he’s still a very good player and from all appearances a better person. Glad to have had him in black and gold for these years.
    Thank you Cutch. You did that uniform proud!

  4. I know the risks and I know the red flags already showing but I really wish the Pirates could sign Cutch to an extension. He should be a career Pirate. Dude is all class. The Pens keep their stars. The Steelers keep their stars. I know both those leagues have a salary cap but the Pirates owe it to the fans to keep Cutch. He should retire a Pirate someday and have #22 retired.

    • Kozy: Even back when the Galbreaths owned the Pirates they were never considered “Pittsburgh” people. The Rooney-owned Steelers were always more well thought of, and now the Penguins have bumped the Pirates down to No. 3 in the city. Even with the fabulous venue of PNC, the Pirates still need to pay attention and develop their signature identity as a Pittsburgh franchise and community involvement has to be recognized with a guy like ‘Cutch

      • I concur. I would be completely okay with them shelling out about a 6yr/$120MM contract to keep him in the Burgh cause I think that’s about what it’ll take.

        I’m still kind of surprised that the Penguins still bow to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Maybe it’s cause I haven’t lived in Pittsburgh for 20 years. One would think that with 5 Championships in the past 26 years including back-to-back titles and an extremely good chance to three-peat combined with 2 generational talents in Crosby and Malkin that they would have possibly supplanted the Steelers but that hasn’t happened. Now granted the Steelers are good year in and year out, have 2 championships themselves, and have had multiple hall of famers even just within the last 20 years. The gap just seems bigger than I think it should be. Maybe that’s cause I played hockey growing up and it’s my favorite sport.

  5. Perhaps I read too much into it. But I think Hurdle’s move and comments last night indicate how the front office feels about Cutch’s status this offseason. He gone.

  6. “last homestand”

    …don’t see any reason why Cutch wouldn’t play tonight but Hurdle’s comment sounds like Cutch will take a day off…

    Also my prediction is we keep Cutch at least till next trade deadline since we don’t really have a outfield depth (unless we’re thinking of Frazier playing everyday at LF and Luplow as our … 4th OF?)

    • ‘Cutch’s performance in a 2017 comeback year, the fact there is no other leader ready to step up, and that somebody will be offering the Pirates a much better TV deal in 2019/2020, inspires me to think we need what he’s got.

      IMO, Marte could be the player that many teams would like to have with his almost always .800 OPS, some power, and very good OF defense. That makes room for Meadows, and more PT for Frazier, Luplow, and Osuna. Also, more PT for those 3 guys could be available as soon as Jaso, and Rodriguez are gone.

  7. Cutch is a total class act, and after hitting .278/28 HRs so far this year, it should be an absolute no-brainer for the Pirates to exercise his option for 2018. If this franchise were not run on a ridiculous shoe string by a person who doesn’t have either the financial commitment or resources to properly operate a MLB team, equally a no-brainer to retain him forever. Class acts like this don’t come along all that often, the last one the pirates had was a certain Wilver Stargell….

      • I am really torn. I’d love to have him retire never having worn another uniform, but at the same time he could bring a really good return in a trade, making us a better overall team.

        • I don’t think his return will be all that great. If it is it changes things but if all we can get are b listers then keep him. Jay Bruce obviously not Cutch but still a good hitter was damn near free this year

    • The Pirates need an identifiable leader on and off the field and Andrew McCutchen has been that person throughout his entire career. I do not claim to know what it would take, but I sure hope this franchise does the due diligence to find out.

      He is making $14 mil this year – $3.2 mil less than the Qualifying Offer (QO) number of $17.2 mil given to Neil Walker. That QO number will rise to over $18 mil + for 2018, and the Pirates CO for ‘Cutch in 2018 is $14.5 mil. 4 years/$80 mil will bring him through age 35.

      9th straight year of wRC+ over 100 – currently at 122 and his WAR Value for 2017 will be $30 mil +

      • BTW, it had to be very satisfying for Steven Brault to pitch the last 3 innings of shutout relief against the team that traded him to the Pirates in 2015. Congrats to that young man who has had a fantastic year already. I would assume the Save credited in the boxscore is a mistake.

        Had to visit an Electrical Supply in Knoxville and had on a Pirate T-shirt. The guy behind the counter tells me his son-in-law played for the Pirates – Nate McLouth. I told him how unpopular that trade was at the time in Pittsburgh because of the strong fan support for Nate – a lunchbox type of guy who beat the odds and outperformed all of the projections.

      • If I remember my Accounting 101 since he does not own 100% of the team he has to have his partners permission to put more of his own money into the team. And since that would increase his ownership %age and lower theirs (unless they all also put in an amount proportionate to their current ownership %age) I doubt they’d agree to that.
        However, there is a good possibility I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about since Accounting 101 was 45+ years ago and I’ve never been an accountant.

    • Well, if he isn’t traded, they WILL exercise his option. I don’t think there really has been any discussion that they wouldn;t.

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