When the ball ricocheted off the wall high above Ben Revere's head and Grady Sizemore was nowhere to be seen, Andrew McCutchen knew he had a chance to complete his first career inside-the-park home run.
The Pirates center fielder turned on the jets and rounded the bases well before the Phillies had any sort of chance to throw him out. The solo, and unconventional, job leveled the game back up after Vance Worley gave up the initial lead to Jerome Williams the inning before in deflating fashion. The Pirates never looked back en route to a 6-3 win.
Rare home run
The inside-the-park home run remains one of the rarest feats in baseball. And a standing up round-tripper happens far more infrequently. But McCutchen made it look all too easy. His speed is impressive enough to just about completely overshadow Grady Sizemore's poor defense in right.
McCutchen's blast hit high off the left center field wall in the deepest part of Citizen's Bank Park. The area of the wall McCutchen hit is made of concrete because it's high enough away from the outfielders. Ben Revere chased the blast all the way to the wall but had no chance of recovering when it took a huge bounce over his head and into right center field.
If Sizemore had been moving on the play, he would have held 'Cutch to a triple, but it took the Phillies right fielder seemingly forever to track the ball down, all while McCutchen burned around the bases. By the time he retrieved the ball and sent it into the infield, McCutchen tapped home plate on his way to the dugout, without breaking stride.
With Revere struggling, McCutchen has moved into third place in the National League batting average race - only behind his teammate Josh Harrison and former teammate Justin Morneau. The reigning MVP might be having a better year than he did last year, despite missing some time back in August. 'Cutch has more home runs this season in about 30 less games and just about the exact same OBP. But it's that slugging that has improved - all the way up to .539, which is his highest ever with the exception of 2012 when he hit 30 home runs.
It seemed as though people expected McCutchen to get more recognition this year as a defending MVP than he did in the year he actually won the award, but it's hard to notice that as the case. Call it a shame, or just unusual, but one of the very most exciting players in the game just doesn't get the spotlight that those around him realize he deserves.
But with the Pirates now holding a 1.5-game cushion on a playoff spot in the NL, he should get his time in the sun - even if it comes on a chilly fall night in Pittsburgh.
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