PITTSBURGH -- For all Andrew McCutchen has accomplished the last nine years as the face of the Pirates' franchise, he had never had a night like Tuesday.
McCutchen hit his first career grand slam and homered again in the sixth, driving in a career-high eight runs as the Pirates cruised to a 10-1 win over the Orioles at PNC Park. McCutchen received two curtain calls, a separate standing ovation as he left the game and a pair of showers as outfielders Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte emptied coolers over his head after the game.
"It's just a night to remember," McCutchen said.
McCutchen became the first Pirates player to drive in eight runs in one game since Jason Bay did so on July 2, 2004. He doubled in the first inning, hit his first career slam off Kevin Gausman in the second and singled in the fifth. A triple shy of the cycle in the sixth, McCutchen instead capped his 4-for-4 day with another homer.
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Initially, the ball looked like it might have bounced off of the top of the 21-foot Clemente Wall and caromed into the outfield grass, giving McCutchen a shot at the cycle, which would have been another career first. As McCutchen dashed out of the batter's box, manager Clint Hurdle laughed, "I don't think many people weren't thinking that."
McCutchen was happy to "settle" for a three-run shot just over the right-field wall.
"That homer looks a lot better than that triple -- and the extra RBI," McCutchen said, smiling. "It would have been cool, definitely, but I would much rather have the homer."
McCutchen ran out to center field in the seventh inning, but Hurdle, after consulting with bench coach Tom Prince, called him back into the dugout. McCutchen had done enough for one night. As he walked off the field, McCutchen tipped his cap as the home crowd of 19,318 stood and cheered.
"I thought it was just appropriate at that time," Hurdle said. "Fans were very appreciative. He's done a lot of wonderful things on the North Shore. Tonight was a very special night for him."
It has been an up-and-down season for McCutchen, who now faces another offseason full of trade rumors, assuming the Pirates pick up his $14.5 million club option. He hit .200 for nearly two months, turned his season around with a torrid two-month stretch, then cooled in August. In one night, McCutchen matched his RBI total from his previous 38 games dating back to Aug. 13.
But McCutchen set out to finish strong, and it's hard to imagine a better way to go out than his performance Tuesday night.
"These last couple months haven't been the months that I've wanted them to be, but I'm still trying to do everything I can to finish on a high note," he said. "I just want to be able to show up the next year like, 'All right, let's go.' It's good to have a night like tonight."
Right-hander Trevor Williams didn't allow the Orioles to ruin McCutchen's career night, holding Baltimore to one run on three hits while striking out six over six innings. Chris Davis homered off Williams in the sixth to score the O's lone run. Coming off a brilliant start against the Red Sox, Gausman gave up six runs on five hits in four innings.
"Command, and not being able to put guys away," Gausman said. "Got guys 0-2, 1-2 a lot. I ended up walking some guys. That's the frustrating part."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ring it: McCutchen gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead with an RBI double to left field in the first inning, and first baseman Josh Bell followed with a run-scoring double to right. It was Bell's 84th RBI of the season but his first since Sept. 7, snapping a 14-game skid for Pittsburgh's rookie cleanup hitter.
Sweet slam: McCutchen will remember his career night for one swing, the hack he took at Gausman's 2-1 fastball in the second inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, McCutchen lined the pitch 412 feet, as projected by Statcast™, into the center-field seats for his first career grand slam. As he stepped on home plate and high-fived teammates Max Moroff and Adam Frazier, McCutchen said, "Finally." After 1,342 career games and 5,812 plate appearances in the Major Leagues, McCutchen had his long-awaited grand slam.
"He's been very transparent with the fact that it's been on his bucket list," Hurdle said. "He was able to wipe that off the list tonight. His facial expression on the trip around the bases said it all."
"That's a good place to go to hit 'em. The carom off the wall could take it to the notch [in left-center field]. Beat the nickel defense and go for three that way. When it went out, I think everybody was good. Eight RBIs on the night, that's crazy." -- Hurdle, on McCutchen's second homer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McCutchen is the sixth player to hit his first career grand slam with 200 or more career homers already under his belt. The others: Sammy Sosa (whose first slam was his 247th homer), Jeff Bagwell (218th), Bob Horner (210th), Kirk Gibson and Eric Karros (both on their 203rd).
McCutchen became just the sixth center fielder to ever record four hits, three-extra base hits, two homers and eight RBIs in one game, joining Willie Mays, Fred Lynn, Mark Whiten, Ken Griffey Jr. and Josh Hamilton.
Left-hander Steven Brault, a starter pitching out of the bullpen, recorded his first professional save by pitching three scoreless innings to end the game.
"I didn't really envision one happening, so I'll take it," Brault said. "Three-inning save, it's a cool rule -- I like the rule now that it works for me. I'll take the nine-run, three-inning save."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With two outs in the seventh inning, Elias Diaz hit a ground ball to third baseman Manny Machado and hustled to first base. Diaz was ruled out on the play, but the Pirates challenged the ruling. After a replay review, the call on the field was confirmed, the Bucs lost their challenge and the inning ended.
Orioles: Rookie right-hander Gabriel Ynoa makes his fourth start of the season on Wednesday in Pittsburgh at 7:05 p.m. ET. He struggled during his first two outings, yielding five earned runs in nine innings, but was outstanding in his most recent start, pitching eight scoreless innings against Tampa Bay.
Pirates: Right-hander Chad Kuhl will make his final start of the season when the Pirates and Orioles return to PNC Park on Wednesday night. Kuhl has put together a 3.25 ERA over his last 15 outings, completing six innings in seven of his 14 scheduled starts. He will look to finish strong in the Pirates' final home game of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
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