PITTSBURGH -- The phrase "lead by example" gets liberally tossed around Major League clubhouses, yet is seldom defined.
Andrew McCutchen took care of that Wednesday night. In their loss to the Reds, Pirates batters were on the receiving end of a total of 151 pitches. McCutchen saw 32 of them.
That skewered ratio resulted from the stubborn, confident approach manager Clint Hurdle urges the rest of his lineup to adopt. It yields results: McCutchen hit one of those 32 pitches out of the park and another safely to left for two of the Bucs' six hits in the 5-2 defeat.
"That's what our men all need to buy into," Hurdle said. "Then have the disciplines and stubbornness to do it. That's what separates hitters at this level."
Less than two weeks after reposing below "the Mendoza Line," McCutchen entered Thursday with 18 hits in his last 48 at-bats, raising his average from .194 to .298.
"Most teams have a go-to guy in the lineup," said Hurdle, who recalled Todd Helton, his Colorado first baseman, in the same light. "At [a count of] 0-and-2 on him, we'd laugh in the dugout, 'Now he's got 'em.'
"They'd waste two pitches, take a couple of stabs at getting him out -- foul, foul -- and now it's a nine-pitch at-bat, and now it's a double. Cutch showed that last night again."
McCutchen's longest at-bat was a 10-pitch duel with Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon leading off the third inning. Four pitches in, the count stood 2-2. McCutchen fouled off four straight full-count fastballs and deposited the next one in the left-field seats for his third home run in as many games.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less