Hall of Famers Kiner, Stargell and Clemente only other Bucs with multiple 3-HR games
By Owen Perkins
Special to MLB.com |
DENVER -- Center fielder Andrew McCutchen put an emphatic end to his slump Tuesday, blasting three home runs and collecting five RBIs to pace the Pirates to a 9-4 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.
McCutchen, who also hit three homers Aug. 1, 2009, against the Nationals, had a chance to become the first Pirate to hit four in a game, but he grounded out to short in the eighth.
After getting Monday off in the midst of a 3-for-23 skid on the road trip, McCutchen launched a drive to left field on his second swing to put the Pirates on the board and spark a three-run first. Statcast™ tracked the blast at 439 feet.
"I'm sure it [helped], but I can't say that's the solo reason I had the day I had," McCutchen said of his day off. "I was able to work in the cage, but when the game started I could relax. I was able to go around and talk to people. I was able to study the game. When I sit the bench, I cherish those moments, because I'm learning. I'm able to focus on a lot of different things that I don't see when I'm playing."
There was no question about McCutchen's focus. He came to the plate with two out in the second and drove a shot into the center-field seats on his first swing, a blast tracked at 432 feet by Statcast™.
"He knows better than anybody that the game challenges you," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He'd gone through a period where he'd been challenged, he kept working, looking for the answer, something he can go rolling again [with]. Found something tonight. Found something maybe this afternoon. The damage was done tonight swinging the bat and some outstanding routes running the outfield."
After grounding out in the fourth, McCutchen made it a hat trick in the sixth with a blast over the right-field scoreboard, a three-run blast tracked by Statcast™ at 392 feet that extended the Pirates' lead to 8-3.
It was the 18th three-homer game by a Pirate, and he was the 10th Pirate to accomplish the feat. He's also the fourth Pirate to do it more than once, joining Hall of Famers Ralph Kiner (four times), Willie Stargell (four) and Roberto Clemente (two).
"It's awesome to hit one homer, but to hit three is really cool," McCutchen said. "To be in that caliber of players is tremendous. It's a good day to remember and something that doesn't always happen."
The last home run may have been the most remarkable, completing an assault on the left-, center- and right-field fences with a complete approach.
"They're all impressive, and I've seen three-homer games here before," Hurdle said. "But to take that ball, location on it, then tommyhawk it down the line like that -- that was impressive. "
McCutchen was locked in, with the five runs from his three homers single-handedly topping the Rockies' output. But for McCutchen, the path out of his slump and back to success is walked before he steps between the lines.
"Locked in is honestly really different," McCutchen said. "People think when you get four hits, you're locked in. Sometimes you can go 0-for-4 and you're locked in. It's the process. I was locking myself in before I stepped on the field. I was in the cage working, at batting practice working. I was locking myself in there. I lock in here. I lock in when no one's watching. So when the game starts, I just play."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.