Cutch gets hit No. 2,000 -- and an emotional ovation

June 11th, 2023

PITTSBURGH -- There was a time when Andrew McCutchen believed that this day was an inevitability, that 2,000 career hits was a stepping stone on the path to something greater.

“When I first came up, you’re so oblivious and naïve,” McCutchen told “In my mind, I felt like I could get 3,000 hits if I played long enough at a high level and did well and [was] not hurt. All things considered, I felt like I could get 3,000 hits.”

In time, however, McCutchen began doing the math. Even with the All-Star appearances, the Silver Sluggers and the MVP, he came to terms with the reality that he likely wouldn’t join the 3,000-hit club.

“That was the first thing, as far as [accolades], that I was like, ‘Nah, never mind, I’m probably not going to get that,’” McCutchen said. “It took me a handful of years to really be honest with myself to where it was like, ‘That ain’t going to happen unless I play in my 40s.’ So yeah, I thought I was going to hit 2,000, because I thought I was going to hit 3,000. You’re young. You’re naïve. You’re maybe a little overconfident in yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

The 2,000-hit club, however, still has a nice ring to it.

With a single in the first inning off the Mets’ Carlos Carrasco, McCutchen collected the 2,000th hit of his Major League career and became the 291st player in MLB history to do so, per Elias, joining Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Joey Votto and Elvis Andrus as the fraternity’s only active members. McCutchen could’ve accomplished the feat in any number of stadiums, but there was only one ballpark where doing so would’ve felt right.

“I wanted to do it here in Pittsburgh,” McCutchen said after the Pirates’ 2-1 win against the Mets. “I’m glad I was able to do it here. It was a special moment.”

It came full circle for McCutchen. On June 4, 2009, nearly 14 years to the day, he recorded the first hit of his career while batting leadoff against the Mets at PNC Park. A decade later, McCutchen achieved the milestone while batting leadoff against the Mets at PNC Park.

McCutchen recalled arriving at the ballpark about an hour before his debut while running off roughly 2-3 hours of sleep. Mike Pelfrey started off McCutchen with two sinkers at the bottom of the zone, quickly putting the 22-year-old rookie in an 0-2 hole. Home-plate umpire Tim McClelland told McCutchen that he better swing.

On the fourth pitch of his career, McCutchen muscled an inside fastball up the middle over second base -- a grounder he thought was going to find an infielder’s glove.

“I remember getting to first and being like, ‘Man, that wasn't a hit in Triple-A, because the grass is so thick there. This is great grass in the big leagues. If this is going to be a hit, I'm going to get a lot of hits,’” McCutchen said.

A lot of hits, indeed.

Once McCutchen’s line drive to left field found grass on Sunday, the crowd provided him with a standing ovation as he tipped his helmet. Home-plate umpire Dan Merzel didn’t rush the following hitter, Bryan Reynolds, into the batter’s box, allowing McCutchen the opportunity to fully enjoy the moment.

For all the excitement and joy that McCutchen experienced, there was also a sense of relief.

Coming into the Pirates’ homestand, McCutchen needed five hits in nine games to reach the milestone. When McCutchen collected two hits in the first game of the homestand, he was on his way before the Mets arrived. 

Then, the well began to run dry. McCutchen went hitless on June 3, sat on June 4, then went hitless on June 5 and 6. After collecting a single on Wednesday, McCutchen entered this weekend needing two hits in three games.

McCutchen singled in his second plate appearance on Friday but went hitless the rest of the day. On Saturday, McCutchen had no hits in four plate appearances. That left him with one game to collect one hit.

Following his three-walk performance against the A’s, McCutchen said reaching 2,000 was “inevitable,” and he was content to take walks. McCutchen, who drew 10 walks in June entering Sunday, said that he couldn’t swing at bad pitches in the pursuit of hits.

Still, McCutchen admitted on Sunday that he began to feel the pressure with every passing game because of his desire to achieve the milestone at home, joking that he felt “horrible.” For fans hoping to see history, however, every plate appearance that didn’t end in a hit heightened the eagerness.

“The toughest thing about this sport is you’re at the mercy of someone else to help you accomplish something you want to accomplish,” McCutchen said. “… It’s not like I can be LeBron James and I’m taking over in the fourth quarter. You can’t really do that. You have to let the game play. When your moment comes, you just try to capitalize off of it.”

In his first plate appearance of the afternoon, McCutchen’s moment arrived in the form of a hanging slider. When it arrived, McCutchen, as he had done 1,999 other times in his career, capitalized.

The 22-year-old version of McCutchen didn’t think he’d need 14 seasons to get to 2,000. The 36-year-old version of McCutchen conceded that, “Things happen. Baseball happens.” But as he sat on the dais on Sunday evening, his kids blissfully running around oblivious to the magnitude of the moment, McCutchen was no less satisfied with the history that he had made, with the company he had joined.