After dropping the first two games of their series against the Cincinnati Reds after the All-Star Break, the Pittsburgh Pirates bounced back by winning two straight, including a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals tonight.
The key to the victory, as it has been for most of this year, is the play of All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen. All Cutch did in this one was go 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs, but this is nothing new. He is hitting .307 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs this year, and continues to be the heart and soul of the Pirates’ offense.
McCutchen has quietly become one of the best players in all of baseball, with three straight All-Star selections to go along with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
The story for the Pirates over the past few years has been a successful first half followed by an implosion in the second half. Last year marked the 20th year in a row that the team finished under .500, but with strong arms in the rotation and bullpen, combined with McCutchen, this could finally be the year the Pirates break the streak.
McCutchen proved tonight again that he is the heart and soul of this team; if they have any chance of making the postseason, it rides solely on the bat of their best player. His two home runs were enough to lead the team to victory tonight, and his torrid month of July (.382 batting average) will hopefully help the team stay hot heading into the postseason push.