Game 81: June surge didn’t surprise McCutchen

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Story by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

CutchLimpOn May 17, a few hours before the Pirates played the Nationals, I chatted for a bit with Andrew McCutchen about his batting slump. He was batting .206 with a .670 OPS  and seemed in danger of having his season spiral out of control. However, McCutchen gave no indication of panic.

“I’m going to keep working until I do better,” McCutchen said that afternoon. “And when I do better and people say, ‘Why are you doing better?’ I’m going to say it’s because I expected to do better. That’s it, plain and simple. I’m not going to say it’s because I hit BP earlier before the game and something clicked … No. It’ll be because I expected it. I expected to do better. I know I’m going to get out of this. And when I do, I’m going to have the same attitude — no panic.”

McCutchen wasn’t just throwing out cliches. That night against the Nats, McCutchen went 2 for 4 with two RBI. From there, things got even better. In June, McCutchen batted .411 with a 1.193 OPS. He reached base in slightly more than half his plate appearances over the course of an entire month. 

When it came time this morning to cast by ballot for NL player of the month, it was an easy choice. I fully expect that, when the winner is announced tomorrow, we’ll see that dozens of other voters around the league made the same decision as I did.

>>> The Giants recalled RHP Chris Stratton from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned RHP Dan Slania. This is the second time Stratton has been recalled this season.

>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:

Giants 13, Pirates 5: The less said, the better.

Notebook: In which Cervelli works out, McCutchen makes a big announcement and Freese sits again

>>> Saturday, Giants at Pirates, 4:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Giants (31-51): Denard Span 8, Joe Panik 4, Hunter Pence 9, Buster Posey 2, Brandon Belt 3, Brandon Crawford 6, Ryder Jones 5, Austin Slater 7, LHP Matt Moore (3-8, 6.04)

Pirates (37-43): Josh Harrison 4, Jose Osuna 7, Andrew McCutchen 8, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Elias Diaz 2, Gregory Polanco 9, Max Moroff 6, RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.58)

>>> Sunday, Giants at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (3-9, 4.63) Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.82)

>>> Monday, Pirates at Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (8-5, 3.08) Phillies: TBA

>>> Tuesday, Pirates at Phillies, 4:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. TV: ESPN/Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (4-2, 2.97) Phillies: TBA

>>> Wednesday, Pirates at Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Gerrit Coe (6-7, 4.51) Phillies: TBA

>>> Thursday, Pirates at Phillies, 6:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl Phillies: TBA

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

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