PITTSBURGH -- Casey Fien's 94-mph fastball spun out of his right hand, crossed home plate and led home-plate umpire Chris Conroy to ring up the last out of the seventh inning Sunday night at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen finally decided he had seen enough.McCutchen grabbed his bat with his right
PITTSBURGH -- Casey Fien's 94-mph fastball spun out of his right hand, crossed home plate and led home-plate umpire Chris Conroy to ring up the last out of the seventh inning Sunday night at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen finally decided he had seen enough.
McCutchen grabbed his bat with his right hand and slammed it to the ground, letting out a season's worth of frustration over borderline ball-strike calls. McCutchen was immediately ejected, taking an early exit from the Pirates' 4-3 win over the Dodgers. It was McCutchen's first career ejection.
"It was a good one, wasn't it?" McCutchen said.
McCutchen was already upset. He'd been on the wrong end of a borderline pitch from Clayton Kershaw in the fifth and a questionably low, 1-1 slider from Fien in the seventh, to say nothing of the innumerable calls that have bothered McCutchen and manager Clint Hurdle throughout the season.
"I would like to say probably it's been all year, probably something that's been inside of me that came out. It wasn't just tonight," McCutchen said. "I felt like I got taken advantage of that last at-bat. The bat was taken out of my hands.
"It's one thing to let things slide, but honestly, I've let things slide my whole career. I don't want to feel like I'm being stepped over. I don't want to feel like I'm being taken advantage of."
McCutchen had asked Conroy to "get the ball up" after the second strike of the at-bat. Then Fien's 2-2 fastball crossed the plate below the strike zone by all available indicators, including Pitch F/x data and the zone on ESPN's telecast. McCutchen felt he had done everything within his power without arguing, so he let loose.
"There's a level of respect in the game. There's a level where you can't cross the line. We understand that as players," McCutchen said. "You can't show an umpire up, and I try my best not to. ... I felt right then I had to voice my opinion."
McCutchen was called out on strikes in the fifth inning as well, slowly stepping away from the plate and walking backward halfway to the dugout after looking at an 88 mph slider from Kershaw.
McCutchen saw his average drop to .240 and his strikeout total climb to 81 after an 0-for-4 night on Sunday. Some of that, Hurdle has said, has been caused by an unusual number of borderline calls turning counts against him.
"He felt what he needed to feel," Hurdle said. "I wanted to go out there, and I told [Conroy] it's tough to hit with three strikes, let alone two, let alone one sometimes. He said they're good pitches, and I said we'll find out after the game and go from there."
Speaking in front of his locker after the game, McCutchen said he had not yet watched video of either at-bat.
"Don't need to. I've been in this game for seven years," McCutchen said. "I know what a strike is. I don't have to look at it."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.