Pirates notebook: McCutchen wins Clemente Award again
For the second year in a row, outfielder Andrew McCutchen was the unanimous winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, as voted upon by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
It's the third time in five years McCutchen has won the award, which honors the team's MVP. Russell Martin finished second and Francisco Liriano was third.
“Look at Andrew's numbers this year in the second half,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was in contention for the (National League) MVP last year. Look at what he's done this year. He continues to make a difference. We feed off everything he does.”
A year ago, McCutchen batted .289 with an .860 OPS after the All-Star break. This season, McCutchen is hitting .352 with a 1.035 OPS in the second half.
Liriano won the team's Most Outstanding Pitcher award. Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli were runners-up.
Neil Walker won the Chuck Tanner Award, which goes to the player who is most cooperative with the media. Clint Barmes finished second.
Ovation for McCutchen
Hurdle sent McCutchen out to center field in the ninth, then replaced him with Starling Marte, allowing McCutchen to get a standing ovation from what was left of the crowd. Hurdle offered the same message for McCutchen as he did last year when he did the same thing: “Well done thy good and faithful servant,” Hurdle said. “Very appropriate.”
Burnett back in 2014?
Right-hander A.J. Burnett, who will be a free agent after this season, last week told the Tribune-Review he is considering retirement. On Sunday, general manager Neal Huntington said Burnett has not indicated whether he wants to return.
“We will do everything within our power to keep A.J. here,” Huntington said. “He's (told us he's) loved it here. He's felt wanted and welcome here. If he decides to continue to pitch, he absolutely has an open mind for Pittsburgh and would love to finish his career as a Pirate. We'd like to continue that dialogue.”
Burnett will turn 37 in January.
Long, strange trip
The Pirates left Sunday to begin an open-ended road trip. The first two stops — Chicago and Cincinnati — are known. Where they go after the regular-season finale is to be determined.
The team could be home as soon as Sunday night or its road trip could be extended as many as five extra days.
“It's a little strange, not knowing where we're going next, but it's also a good thing,” Walker said.
If the Pirates win the NL Central title, they will return home for at least a couple of days until the start of the Division Series on Oct. 3. The first game could be in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Los Angeles or Atlanta.
If they earn the first wild-card spot, the Pirates would fly home to host the one-game playoff Oct. 1 against the Reds or Cardinals.
If they wind up with the second wild card, the Pirates would fly Sunday night to St. Louis or stay in Cincinnati for the one-and-done game. If the Pirates win the wild-card game, they'd open the NLDS with two road games against the Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals or Reds.
Catcher Russell Martin was taken out of the game after the fourth inning with discomfort in his left knee. Hurdle said he had no update, “other than we felt it would be best to get him out right then. No need to push him. We use our eyes and talk to our players. His preference would have been to stay in.”
By the numbers
The game drew 38,699 fans, marking the 23rd sellout. The three-game series against the Reds drew 116,064 — the second-most for a three-game set at PNC Park. The Pirates attracted 2,256,862 fans this season, the second-highest total at PNC Park (the inaugural season at the stadium drew 2,464,870). The average attendance was 28,211.