On Friday night, I made my way down to PNC Park to take in a Pirates game with some family and friends. Barry Zito was on the hill for the opposing Giants, and I salivated before the game at the thought of seeing Andrew McCutchen face him. McCutchen has been scorching hot, hitting .401/.447/.730 since June 1 and .362/.414/.625 on the year. He has been particularly unstoppable against left-handed pitchers, hitting .455/.494/.792 in 85 plate appearances against southpaws in 2012. Zito is a hittable left-handed pitcher who struggles to miss bats, and I could just envision McCutchen teeing off on him all evening.
I was not disappointed in the first inning. With two on and nobody out, McCutchen stroked an 0-1 pitch into left field to bring home a run and give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
However, in the 3rd inning, I had the opportunity to witness the event I had daydreamed about witnessing. McCutchen stepped in with Josh Harrison at first and one out. He patiently watched the first three pitches, taking a curveball for a strike and then two pitches outside the zone. With the count sitting at 2-1, Zito hurled his trademark curveball. I was sitting about 400-500 feet from home plate, but as the baseball floated toward its destination, I knew immediately what was about to occur. I sat forward ever so slightly in my seat as the ball arrived at home plate. McCutchen paused his body’s movements for a split-second as he recognized an off-speed pitch, then, in an instant, attacked.
I tracked the ball as it rocketed out toward the left-center field gap, thoroughly enjoying the perfectly placed line drive. After a few seconds, it settled into the deepest part of the ballpark.
At this point, I suddenly realized that I was about to miss the best part of this moment and quickly turned my gaze back toward the infield. McCutchen had just touched first base and was quickly transitioning to a special level of athletic performance. I cannot think of anything in baseball that is currently more enjoyable to watch than Andrew McCutchen legging out a triple. The way he goes from first to third is so aesthetically pleasing, so perfect. Its beauty simply cannot be captured by a low-grade, 12-second GIF file. (You can watch video of it at the 0:50 mark here.)
I went to the ballpark on this evening in hopes of seeing the Pirates’ superstar do something special. He did not hit a walk-off home run or make a spectacular catch in center field. All he did was go 3 for 5 with two RBI’s, and leave me with a little moment that I will not soon forget. He did not disappoint.