When I first saw Andrew McCutchen play last August, the first thing I noticed was his height. “Damn, he’s short!” I thought. The second thing I noticed was his swing, when he effortlessly took a David Price fastball to the warning track with a flip of his wrist. Tonight, every Pirate fan got their first taste of that swing when Francisco Liriano left a two-strike pitch out over the plate and McCutchen belted it over the left-center fence. This wasn’t like Nyjer Morgan’s home run last night, which kind of felt like a bolt of lightning, it just a guy doing what he does at the plate. Which is to say that I still think that McCutchen will hit his rough spots this year, but it’s hard to imagine him looking any more at home in the Major Leagues than he does right now.
When everyone said that the Pirates would need power from “non-traditional sources” in the aftermath of the McLouth trade, McCutchen and Andy LaRoche are the two guys that the people that said that meant. Both hit the ball hard, and tonight, both of them took mistakes by Liriano and put them over the fence. This is what good hitters do, so it was nice to see two young guys that I think of as potentially good hitters do that.
There was much more to this game than the home runs, though. For much of the early going, it looked like we were going tSo need all the runs we could get, as Ian Snell labored through three brutal innings, throwing 70 pitches and somehow only giving up two runs. I love this exchange from DK’s recap in the Post-Gazette:
“I was nibbling a little, and we weren’t getting the calls on the corners,” Snell said, referring to home plate umpire Lance Barksdale.
After the third inning, pitching coach Joe Kerrigan had, by all accounts, a rather pointed message for Snell.
“He told me to man up, start pounding the zone,” Snell recalled. “Just trust my stuff.”
That perfectly describes everything that I dislike about Snell and everything that I like about Kerrigan in one neat little anecdote.
Ian Snell: Waaaaaaah, it’s everyone else’s fault but mine that I suck!
Joe Kerrigan: STFU and throw strikes.
There was also the Metrodome adventures that lead to loaded bases for the Twins late in the game and the weird play early on when Nyjer Morgan tracked a fly ball to the track, threw his arms up in confusion after losing the ball, and was saved by a cruising Andrew McCutchen, who swooped in to catch the pop-up. And Adam LaRoche added a home run, to make he and Andy the first brothers to homer in the same game since the Waners.
All that in one game? And we won? This is much more interesting than the way interleague play normally goes.