A month into the 2012 season, all eyes were on Andrew McCutchen and the fact that he had not yet gone deep for a home run. Game after game, McCutchen continued to pick up hits, doubles, swiping bases, but his lack of long ball power started to raise some concern outside the clubhouse.
“As far as power, power comes and power goes,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said in early May. “I’m encouraged that Andrew is not out there swinging like he was in the second half of the season [last year]. Home runs will come. Especially if you’re a guy that’s hitting one every 30 at-bats anyway, what’s the big deal? He hasn’t even had 100 at-bats, so how many is he really short?”
It took McCutchen 95 at-bats before he connected for his first homer of the season. The All-Star center fielder took a 2-2 pitch by the Washington Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson to lead off the fourth inning on May 8th. And since then, McCutchen’s home runs keep on coming.
On Saturday afternoon in Detroit, McCutchen connected for two, two-run blasts off the Tigers’ rookie Drew Smyly. The first came with one-out in the first inning, the second with one-out in the fifth. It marked his sixth and seventh home runs of the season and his fourth and fifth over his last eight games. McCutchen has collected 10 hits in his last 15 at bats against left-handed pitchers for a .667 average. The outfielder also had a two-homer night against the Nationals on Thursday. He now has six career multi-homer games and two this season.
McCutchen has a .420 average this month in 50 at-bats. Entering game action on Saturday, the only three players in the National League with a higher batting average so far this month are Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz (.442), New York’s David Wright (.436) and St. Louis’ Rafael Furcal (.426).
The seven long balls McCutchen has connected for this month (with 10 games remaining) is the most he has hit in one month since hitting eight in his rookie season in August 2009.
Safe to say his power is just fine.
Burnett Holds Tigers to Two Runs
Right-hander A.J. Burnett made his sixth start of the season on Saturday against Detroit. Burnett allowed just two runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out two while throwing 106 pitches, 67 strikes.
Both runs scored off Burnett in the third inning. The right-hander gave up a leadoff double to left fielder Andy Dirks. After Miguel Cabrera grounded out to first allowing the runner to advance to third, Prince Fielder drilled a two-run homer to right field for his seventh long ball of the season to tie the game at 2.
The 33-year-old didn’t have the best control in his outing. Burnett had at least one base runner in each of his six innings but was able to battle through and limit the damage. Burnett’s two punch outs didn’t come until his final frame.
Burnett is two innings shy of becoming the 17th active hurler with at least 2000 innings pitched in the big leagues.
McGehee Snaps Skid in Detroit
Infielder Casey McGehee snapped an 0-for-22 skid with a single up the left side in the second inning on Saturday. The third baseman, who has adjusted very well to playing first base primarily for the Bucs, entered game action hitting for just a .195 average this season. McGehee hit .269/.345/.710 in the month of April, but has hit for just a .086 clip over 14 games in May.