ShareThis Page

McCutchen regains swagger in Pirates loss to Cardinals

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 10:54 p.m.

ST. LOUIS — Although the Pirates came up 2-1 losers on Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals, they found something they've been lacking all season.

Andrew McCutchen returned to center field and got his swagger back.

“Just doing my job,” McCutchen said quietly.

McCutchen went 2 for 4, including a double, to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He also displayed his old mojo in the outfield, making acrobatic, full-sprint catches like a younger version of himself.

“I don't know about mojo or whatnot,” McCutchen said. “I'm just doing me, doing my job. Center field is where I need to play. It's where I want to be at. If I've got to show a couple people that — show I can do what I need to do — that's what I'm going to do.”

McCutchen was unhappy when management decided last winter he no longer had the chops to play center field. He played in right for the first 13 games this season and did a solid, albeit unspectacular, job.

When Starling Marte was suspended 80 games for using a performance-enhancing drug on Tuesday, McCutchen again became the everyday center fielder.

“He's ready,” left fielder Gregory Polanco said. “I can see it. He seems faster than last year. His knee is healthy again and he's flying.”

With Marte out until after the All-Star break, the Pirates will need an infusion of oomph from McCutchen.

“It's very important because he's the guy,” Polanco said. “When he goes, everybody goes. When you see him playing like that, everybody wants to follow him.”

The Cardinals tested the “new” center fielder often in the game. McCutchen ran hard to his right and hauled in Jose Martinez's fly ball in the second inning. In the third, Mike Leake's deep fly sent McCutchen sprinting back to the wall.

After he made the catch and threw the ball back to the infield, McCutchen pumped his fist and shouted, “That's my spot!”

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the first against right-hander Chad Kuhl (1-1). Dexter Fowler tripled off the wall in right-center — right fielder Adam Frazier kicked the ball, but it made no difference as Fowler was thinking triple all the way.

“A fastball that just ran back over the middle,” Kuhl said. “He got it. You have to buckle down and limit the damage after that.”

Stephen Piscotty hit a slow roller to the right side. First baseman Josh Bell's throw to the plate was high and too late to prevent Fowler from scoring.

Martinez began the fifth with a single up the middle. Greg Garcia lined a double to the gap in right-center to score Martinez. McCutchen picked up an outfield assist when Garcia was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.

Leake checked the Pirates to three hits over the first five innings. Frazier led off the sixth with an infield single.

With one out, McCutchen pulled a double down the line, just beyond the reach of third baseman Garcia. Polanco's ground out scored Frazier to make it 2-1.

The Pirates threatened in the seventh. With one out, Bell and Jordy Mercer hit back-to-back singles. Lefty Brett Cecil replaced Leake and got pinch-hitter Jose Osuna — in his first at-bat in the big leagues — to roll into a double play.

Notes: Osuna took Marte's spot on the active roster. To replace Osuna at Triple-A Indianapolis, Joey Terdoslavich was promoted from extended spring training. … Marte leads the majors with three outfield assists. His 40 assists since the start of the 2014 season are tied with Yoenis Cespedes for the most in the big leagues.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.