By Rob Biertempfel/Photos by Christopher Horner
CHICAGO — Around the All-Star break last year, I was scrolling through the list of Pirates all-time home run leaders and was a bit surprised to see Andrew McCutchen’s name among the top 10. I’ve always viewed McCutchen as an all-around standout rather than a pure slugger, but there he was last year, just a couple of dingers behind No. 5 Dave Parker.
I wrote a story about McCutchen’s “sneaky” power on July 18, when he was one behind the Cobra. McCutchen matched Parker nine days later. He hit nine more that season to end the year with 175 home runs. Yesterday, he got his first of 2017 — a two-run shot to left-center field in the first inning. McCutchen is the first Pirate to homer at Fenway Park against an AL team since Jimmy Sebring hit one off Cy Young in the first game of the 1903 World Series.
That home run was historic for another reason: it was No. 176 and moved McCutchen into a tie with Barry Bonds for fourth place in franchise history. McCutchen probably will go yard a few more times this season, but he almost certainly will climb no higher than fourth on the all-time list. He’ll never catch Hall-of-Famers Willie Stargell (475 home runs) and Ralph Kiner (301). Could he get even with Roberto Clemente (240)? Maybe … if McCutchen gets a few more years in Pittsburgh. That would mean a contract extension and we all know the chances of that happening are about nil.
>>> The Penguins will knock the Pirates off Root on Tuesday, but you can still watch black-and-gold baseball on TV that night. MLB Network will televise the 8:15 p.m. Pirates-Cardinals game in the Pittsburgh area. Root will carry the Penguins-Blue Jackets game at 7:30 p.m.
>>> You want links? I’ve got one for ya:
Red Sox 4, Pirates 3: Chad Kuhl’s solid outing (6.1 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 6 strikeouts) was wasted by the bullpen.
>>> Friday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Josh Harrison 4, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, John Jaso 3, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Gerrit Cole (0-1, 6.55)
Cubs: Kyle Schwarber 7, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, Ben Zobrist 9, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 8, Miguel Montero 2, RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 6.00), Javy Baez 4.
Gamecatst: Cole has twice as many victories at Wrigley Field (six) as in any other road venue. For comparison’s sake, Cole has just two road wins against all three other NL Central rivals combined. … Hendricks last season went 3-0 with an 0.47 ERA (one run in 19 innings) in three starts against the Pirates.
>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 27.00)
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.08)
>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-0, 1.38)
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (0-0, 1.64)
>>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (1-1, 2.25)
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.23)
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.