PITTSBURGH- 26,770 witnessed Andrew McCutchen achieve history in the first inning with a 102.9 mph single into left field, resulting in his 2,000th career hit.
With his first-inning hit, McCutchen became just the 291st player in major league history to have at least 2,000 hits during their career.
Knowing McCutchen, he just cared about getting the win, as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the New York Mets 2-1 and took the series Sunday afternoon.
Nonetheless, it was a special moment for McCutchen, the team, and the city of Pittsburgh.
During his post-game press conference, Pirates manager Derek Shelton spoke on McCutchen’s achievement and what he felt after hit number 2,000 was secured.
“Relief, a little bit, more for him just because of the fact that he’s leading baseball in walks in the month of June. He came home on a homestand, and we had three really good crowds, and he never really got away from his approach, which I give him credit throughout the whole time. I think a lot of people when they’re chasing milestones, start to press. We saw how unbelievable an individual he is because he didn’t press and he played the team game.”
I think everyone in the press box, both dugouts and in the stands, were caught up in the moment when McCutchen finally achieved this goal, but did Shelton find himself caught up?
“Yeah, 100%. I think you expect it to happen, but when it happens and to see the reaction of the crowd and to see his reaction, to see his teammates’ reaction, yeah, it was a special moment.”
Throughout this entire endeavor, McCutchen has taken a patient approach to the plate and has gotten a ton of walks as a result of it.
It’s little things like that, that can set an example for the younger guys on the team.
“I think if you look back, even the Oakland series, I think we walked 21 times that series as a team. In this series, we were extremely patient; we made guys work when you see someone of his caliber of player that’s chasing a milestone and staying consistent with their approach 100%. There’s no better model for young players than watching a veteran player handle himself like that.”
Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things in sports to do, so to hit the ball 2,000 times is a feat worth celebrating.
“There are less than 300 people in the history of that game that ever did it,” said Shelton on how difficult it is to hit 2,000 hits. “I think that in of itself, when you see how many people played in the big leagues, realize how important it is. It was really important that he did it in a black and gold jersey.”
After Shelton’s presser, the media was greeted by McCutchen himself in the press conference room, and he took as back through that at-bat with Carrasco.
“I haven’t faced Cookie [Carrasco] a lot in my whole career because most of the time, he was in the American League. I faced him for the first time last year when I was on the Brewers. Had some pretty good at bats against him, hit some balls hard. I knew what he had coming into the game. Keeping my same approach, tried to stay within myself. Threw me a fastball top of the zone first pitch, but a good swing, but was a little late, which is pretty much how I have been throughout the homestand. Then he laid the slider in there for me, just stayed through it. Took a good swing on it, some hard contact.”
When the dust settled, and the game was over, McCutchen was greeted by his coaches and teammates alike in the clubhouse.
“Every one stood up, clapped, and I was trying to send a text to my wife,” said McCutchen. “They caught me in the middle of that. It was nice, everyone stood up and congratulated me. Shelton spoke a few words and gave me the 2,000 hit ball. It was nice. It was really nice to get that from everybody. I’m sure they wanted to give me a beer shower, but I tried to stay away from that as much as I could.”