Pirates drop both games of doubleheader to Reds
Pirates pitcher Daniel McCutchen throws against the Reds in the first inning of game one of a doubleheader yesterday in Cincinnati.
Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto in the sixth inning during the second game of a doubleheader yesterday in Cincinnati. The Reds won 6-3.
Pirates catcher Jason Jaramillo watches his RBI single hit off Reds pitcher Carlos Fisher in the seventh inning of game 1.
Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno slides into third base for a triple past Reds third baseman Scott Rolen in the seventh inning of the first game.
Reds outfielder Darnell McDonald slides across home plate with the winning run after a wild pitch from Pirates pitcher Jesse Chavez in the bottom of ninth inning of the first game.
Reds outfielder Darnell McDonald is congratulated by teammates after scoring the winning run on a wild pitch from Pirates pitcher Jesse Chavez in the bottom of the ninth inning of the first game.
Reds pitcher Kip Wells throws against the Pirates in the first inning of the first game. The former Pirates pitcher gave up two earned runs in six innings.
Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs watches his two-run home run off Pirates pitcher Jesse Chavez in the eighth inning during the second game.
Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes watches his ground-rule double hit off Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm, scoring second baseman Brandon Phillips in the first inning of the second game.
Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs is congratulated by first baseman Joey Votto after Stubbs scored on a double by shortstop Paul Janish in the first inning during the second game.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips hits a single off Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm in the fifth inning during the second game.
Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs is congratulated by third base coach Mark Berry after Stubbs hit a solo home run off Pirates pitcher Daniel McCutchen in the first inning of the first game.
Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto throws against the Pirates during the first inning of the second game.
Reds second baseman Drew Sutton goes up for the throw as Pirates outfielder Garrett Jones slides safely stealing second base in the third inning of the first game.
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CINCINNATI -- Daniel McCutchen might well end up starting dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of Pirates games in his pitching career. This first one, though, will endure.
Because a guy rarely gets to make his major league debut in front of friends and family -- and hardly anyone else.
There were, by the Post-Gazette's count, little more than 800 people in the Great American Ball Park stands yesterday afternoon, even though the Reds announced a paid attendance of 13,051. That translated into roughly 12,000 folks who decided, on a splendidly sunny day, to be no-shows for the first half of a day-night doubleheader between the National League Central's bottom feeders. Imagine how the stands would have looked if McCutchen hadn't been scratched from Team USA in the World Cup, hastily recalled Sunday morning by the Pirates from Class AAA Indianapolis and able to interrupt churchgoing family members in Oklahoma -- from where his parents made an all-night, 870-mile drive to get here in time.
"Tried to block that crowd out," the rookie said after tossing a quality start in a Pirates first-game loss, 4-3.
"That's a joke," he clarified.
On a lonely afternoon when the public address played such tunes as "All By Myself" -- showing on the videoboard one fan sitting alone in a barren section -- the visiting-team starter couldn't help but hear his own fans cheering for him. And with good reason. After yielding a home run on his second pitch as a major-leaguer, he buckled down to allow just two more runs and drive one in himself on his inaugural hit -- on the third pitch he saw as a major-leaguer. Heck, for an inning there, he had a 9.00 ERA and a 1.000 batting average, although both eventually were cut in half.
McCutchen finished his debut allowing five hits, three earned runs and two walks in six innings to go with five strikeouts and the respect of his manager and teammates.
"For his first outing in the major leagues, I thought he did really well," said manager John Russell, whose club lost in the nightcap, 6-3.
In the third inning, McCutchen allowed singles by Drew Stubbs, Drew Sutton and Scott Rolen and two runs. But he then retired 10 of the next 12.
"After he got through that one inning, his command of his fastball was really good and the changeup he was throwing was really effective," Russell said. "I enjoyed watching him pitch. It was fun."
With Ross Ohlendorf and Kevin Hart approaching their innings limitation and soon to get shut down for the remainder of the season, will retain a regular spot in the starting rotation.
Even if his first big league start didn't begin so well.
"Gave up a homer to the Texan Drew Stubbs -- the OU-Texas rivalry still," said McCutchen, a Norman High and Oklahoma University product the same as his new boss, Russell. "After that, I kind of shook that one off."
He was a key yet unheralded component of the Xavier Nady-Damaso Marte trade last July with the New York Yankees. After a lackluster spring training and slow start at Indianapolis, McCutchen blazed to a 13-6 record and won eight of his last nine minor league starts. He was all set to represent his country in the World Cup tournament in Europe, then came the call Sunday morning.
"If I would've had the chance, I was ready to start my clock, ready to get up to the big leagues," he said. "I was pitching good baseball. I felt I was ready. I'm glad they felt the same way and gave me the opportunity."
Nice of Reds fans to oblige him a quiet opportunity, too.
"To be able to get it under my belt with not a screaming crowd, a pretty ... easy environment," he began. "I think it actually worked out best."
Things didn't work out so well for the Pirates in the ninth. Facing Jesse Chavez, Cincinnati scratched out the winning run. Pinch-hitter Darnell McDonald singled to left, moved to second on Craig Tatum's single to right and advanced to third on a flyout to right by Paul Janish. On a 2-0 pitch to Stubbs, Chavez threw a wild pitch that allowed McDonald to score with the winning run.
First Published September 1, 2009 12:00 am