McCutchen banks first HR on moon shot

Pirates slugger relieved to end early-season power drought

McCutchen banks first HR on moon shot

PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen ran around the bases, touched home plate and began walking toward the Pirates dugout, holding his helmet in his right hand. Before walking down the steps, he raised both hands in the air, looked up to the sky and slowly spun around.

McCutchen hit his first home run of the season, a towering solo shot to left field off the Brewers' Taylor Jungmann, as the Bucs snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-0 win at PNC Park on Saturday night.

But what was he thinking as he made his way back to the dugout?

"Honestly, for real, 'About time,'" McCutchen said. "How many balls have I hit on the barrel that I just missed? Honestly, if I hit half of those balls, I've got eight home runs.

"I know that's the game. That's baseball. That happens. You just hate that it does. You've got to embrace it, get over it and keep going."

After working a 2-0 count, McCutchen got every bit of Jungmann's 75-mph curveball. According to Statcast™, the ball came off McCutchen's bat at 104 mph at an angle of 36 degrees, soaring high into the air before landing 401 feet away in the left-field stands.

McCutchen hit seven homers in Spring Training. After abusing the outfield seats throughout the Grapefruit League, he was ready to hit one that counted. So his reaction Saturday night was less celebration and more exasperation.

"I was relieved," McCutchen said. "Definitely."

McCutchen is typically a slow starter, never more so than when he was held back by a sore left knee last year, so his numbers this season weren't exactly cause for concern. In his last eight games before Saturday, McCutchen was hitting .188 (6-for-32) with eight strikeouts and one RBI.

"I'm getting there," McCutchen said. "Twelve games into the season, hopefully just keep it going. Once I really get it, hopefully I can stay there and maintain it."

There have been some concerns about the Pirates' power. McCutchen's homer was their fifth as a team, two fewer than Colorado phenom Trevor Story and as many as Bryce Harper, Robinson Cano, Josh Donaldson and Mark Trumbo.

But McCutchen has averaged 25 homers over the last five seasons and remains the most important power source in the Bucs' lineup.

The most important issue for McCutchen, evidently, was getting the first one out of the way.

"Based on his actions," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, "it seemed to be."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.