For a generation of Pittsburgh Pirates fans, Andrew McCutchen was the second coming of Barry Bonds. Now, as the man who revived baseball in Pittsburgh departs for San Francisco, here is my tribute to Andrew McCutchen.
Here are my Top five moments in Andrew McCutchen’s Pirates career.
# 5 July 12, 2015: El Coffee deals the Cards a walk-off
Also known as the night after McCutchen’s walk-off in 14 innings.
A wild capper to a wild weekend on the North Shore.
Coming into the All-Star break, the Pirates had a big three-game series with the first place St. Louis Cardinals. After losing on Friday and winning a classic on Saturday, the stage was set for another heroic effort.
In the 10th inning, reliever Arquimedes Caminero gave up a bases-loaded, two-run double on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Then, the fun began.
Down 5-3 with two outs, the Pirates came back for the second time in as many nights. Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli hit in a pair to set up Gregory Polanco for a dazzling finish.
Greg Brown, the voice of the Pirates, called it “pandemonium” on the North Shore as El Coffee sent everyone home with a 6-5 Bucco’s victory.
#4 October 6, 2013: NLDS Game Three
Game three of the National League Division Series: Cardinals vs Pirates.
After Marlon Byrd gave the Pirates an early two-run lead, St. Louis struck back with two runs of their own in the fifth.
Both teams then traded runs to knot the game at three.
Cue Pedro Alvarez.
Notorious for his reputation against lefties, the Red Birds brought in Kevin Seigrist to face Alvarez.
El Toro came up clutch with an RBI single, and Russell Martin added insurance for a 5-3 Pittsburgh win.
As they “Raised the Jolly Roger” for a 2-1 series lead.
#3 July 11, 2015: Cutch walks it off in extras
This game had it all — from a wrongly identified Mark Reynolds swinging strike three, which later was called a foul tip and bought him another strike that turned into a homer (thanks instant replay), to A.J. Burnett living up to his Batman moniker and lifting his own homer into the dark Pittsburgh night.
The Pirates came back three separate times.
Alvarez, Jung-ho Kang and Chris Stewart all drove in runs to erase Cardinals’ leads in the eighth and extra innings. A defensive gem by Sean Rodriguez kept the Pirates within one run of St. Louis, setting the stage for McCutchen.
“High fly ball to center field. It’s hit pretty well, to the wall … Gone!!!” Greg Brown exclaimed.
Pirates 6, Cardinals 5.
“Call it maybe the best all-time in Pittsburgh,” Brown screamed from the radio booth.
#2 September 23, 2013: Playoff Bound
Pirates at Cubs.
An exorcism 20 years in the making.
Starling Marte hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth inning to put the Buccos on top, 2-1, leaving ‘Buctober’ just three outs away.
Jason Grilli, with a runner on first in the Cubs half of the ninth, let up a single bobbled by Marlon Byrd. McCutchen’s throw missed the cut-off but found first baseman Justin Morneau. A final relay to Martin clinched the Pirates playoff birth.
It’s a play etched into Pirates’ fans minds that’ll never be forgotten.
#1 October 1, 2013: “Cueto… Cueto”
National League Wild Card game, Cincinnati at Pirates.
The night 20 years in the making turned out to be worth the wait.
Truly, PNC Park was built for that night. Somewhere between the 40,000 Cueto chants and the Pirates high powered bats, you could have heard James Earl Jones saying ” if you build it they will come.” They most definitely came, packing PNC to the rotunda on that magical night.
Pirates fans were the 10th man in the Bucco’s lineup. Three long balls by Martin and Byrd left the outcome in little doubt. The Pittsburgh Kid Neil Walker knocked in a couple of runs, while appropriately assisting on the final out.
The Buccos won 6-2, moving onto St.Louis.
Thank You, Cutch. It was a great ride!