PITTSBURGH -- After striking out in his first at-bat, Andrew McCutchen looked comfortable at the plate Saturday night. He homered twice off Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, hammering a curveball and later ripping into a fastball. In this season where so little has gone right, what felt right in the Pirates'
PITTSBURGH -- After striking out in his first at-bat, Andrew McCutchen looked comfortable at the plate Saturday night. He homered twice off Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, hammering a curveball and later ripping into a fastball. In this season where so little has gone right, what felt right in the Pirates' 6-1 win at PNC Park?
"For starters, the Adele walk-up song felt real good," McCutchen said. "Had me feeling good, vibing, going up to bat. That's for starters. Everything after that was just everything after that, honestly."
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The walk-up song was Adele's "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," a change McCutchen called for before Friday's game. Everything after that, as he put it, might help turn around McCutchen's thus-far disappointing season.
McCutchen entered the night hitting .239/.317/.400 with 78 strikeouts, surprisingly pedestrian numbers for the five-time All-Star and former National League MVP. The reasons are plentiful.
He's been hurt, hampered recently by a swollen right thumb. Until a few weeks ago, he'd been gripping the bat wrong. He's worked through mechanical adjustments. He's dealt with a tough strike zone, manager Clint Hurdle has said, and all the pitchers' counts haven't done him any favors.
But McCutchen isn't prone to falling back on excuses. So he went to work, which made Saturday's performance more satisfying.
"Of course it's going to be helpful. You go 0-for-100, that ain't helping," McCutchen said. "It's good to get some hits on the board -- not only hits, but some big hits. It felt good to be able to get a pitch to hit and square it up. That's what it's been about."
As the Pirates try to pull their way out of a miserable stretch in which they lost 20 of 26 games and fell under .500, they could use their star center fielder to hit like he so often has.
They saw vintage McCutchen against Maeda. He launched a solo homer off a curveball in the fourth inning, the Pirates' first hit, and turned on a fastball for a three-run shot in the sixth.
"He's a great example of our team this season. We're not playing the way we'd like to be playing. He's not doing what he'd like to be doing," left-hander Jeff Locke said. "On any given night, we can come out there and look like the best team in baseball, and he'll continue to look like the best player in baseball."
Could this have been a turning point for McCutchen and the Pirates? Perhaps it's still too soon to say.
"He shows up every day and hits the reset button, expects something good to happen," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll just let him play, let him keep pounding out some at-bats, see where it takes us."
What about that walk-up song?
"If y'all don't listen to Adele, y'all don't like Christmas. Everybody loves Adele," McCutchen said. "I rock with that song. ... Hey, I'm staying with it."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.