There was a power surge from the Black Knights despite the absence of brotherly love in Philadelphia.
The Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies finished a brief but contentious two-game series with the rising tension of the National League East division race beaming on Wednesday afternoon.
Andrew McCutchen and Josh Bell hit grand slams in a game of electrifying offense following a night where Nationals manager Davy Martinez and Phillies Joe Girardi nearly came to blows after Max Scherzer was inspected for foreign substances one day after Major League Baseball started policing its pitchers for sticky fingers.
McCutchen blasted a grand slam (his 13th of the season) to left-center field off Kyle McGowin which put the Phillies up 9-5. The Nationals’ sputtering offense then got a jolt in the top of the 6th from the struggling Bell.
“I’ve been waiting on drilling a baseball in a big moment there for a little this season,” Bell said. “Especially on a fastball. I’ve been trying to drive the ball the other way all season long and been rolling over into the shift in big situations. It feels like things are starting to turn around for me.”
The Nats’ victory was their ninth in the last 10 games. Suddenly, Washington has now moved into second place and is within 3.5 games of the New York Mets heading into their four-game weekend series in Miami Marlins and their Black Knight Jazz Chisholm.
If you have not been watching Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen recently, then you are missing out. By the time his Sunday was complete, he had reached career milestones in doubles (35) and runs scored (1,000).
And his hits have been timely. The former 2013 National League MVP still has some power in his bat. During his six-game hitting streak, he’s 9-for-20 with three home runs with seven RBI.
McCutchen came through big time in the Phillies’ 5-2 victory over the Nationals on June 5. He only had one hit that game, but that hit was a three-run homer that helped the Phillies seal the victory.
The next day, on June 6, he went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
After that game, McCutchen talked about his performance and how he came and delivered for his team. Beyond the stick, McCutchen’s leadership is also invaluable.
“That’s what it’s all about,” McCutchen told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We don’t get many opportunities like that so when we do, you have to be able to capitalize. We were able to do that.”
The Phillies took two of three from the Nationals in their recent series. McCutchen was one of the Phillies’ top hitters during the series, going 5-for-10 with four RBI.
When the 2021 season started, McCutchen got off to a slow start. The 13-year veteran hit an abysmal .169 for April.
In baseball, there will be times where players face slumps and aren’t hitting the way they want to. One thing you have to continue to do is continue to stay positive and always and be ready for the next opportunity.
When May rolled around, McCutchen started to see more success at the plate. He went on a six-game hitting streak during the month.
One area McCutchen has had success this season is hitting off of left-handed pitchers. In a separate article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that was published on June 3, it stated that McCutchen was hitting .301 against lefties.
“Sometimes I can fall into these patterns to where I’m one way on a lefty, and then when a righty comes in, the approach kind of changes,” McCutchen said. “I feel like lefties, maybe I’m diving over the plate.
“Righties come in, and I’m diving, and I’m missing pitches that I should be hitting. It’s just about centering that and fine-tuning it so you can be even-keeled against a lefty or a righty. I don’t look at it as a problem. I just look at it as a challenge.”
I dont mean this in a cocky way. But I’ve learned that you have to believe in yourself before anyone else can. Ppl will give up on you if you dont meet their expectations. I will never give up on me. Self talk is the best talk. Let’s get em Tuesday https://t.co/u2UxlX45xD
So even though his overall numbers aren’t the best this season, McCutchen still has a lot of value to this Phillies team. He’s the type of player that can change the game with one swing of the bat and he’s displayed that his whole career.
Now in his third year with the Phillies, McCutchen will look to continue to establish himself as a threat at the plate and in the field.
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The feat was McCutchens’ 17th multi-home run game of his career, 35th vs. the Brewers organization, and the first since his stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2017.
Coming into the game, McCutchen was batting a dismal .176 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of .586. In 102 attempts at the plate, he only has four extra-base hits this season.
The Philadelphia faithful were calling for the future Hall of Famer’s job after the first month of the season.
So, it must have felt gratifying to watch those dingers fly while also being a significant factor in your teams’ victory, especially for the aging former National League Most Valuable Player.
This isn’t the first time McCutchen has had to prove himself after achieving success in the league. The Pirates openly shopped McCutchen, who singlehandedly helped lift them back into the playoffs and relevancy. Before he came to Pittsburgh the franchise was entrapped in record-breaking futility. They haven’t been playoff-caliber since he left. So, he’s confident he can get his bat in good enough shape to help the Phillies make a run at the NL East.
So is his World Series manager Joe Girardi.
“He’s been working really hard on everything,” said Girardi. “He’s starting to find his stroke a little bit. He’s been working really hard with hitting coach Joe Dillon, and he’s starting to find his stroke, and it’s important for us.”
McCutchen, per The Philadelphia Inquirer, said, “I’ve played long enough to where I know sometimes you want to start good; you want to start on the right foot, and sometimes when you don’t, you know that you’ve got work to do.”
He added, “For me, I was just like, look, I’m not where I want to be, but I know where I’m going to be. So, I’ve just got to put the work in, continue working, and the results will come. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
McCutchen also had a hit on Wednesday in Game 1 of a three-game homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers that elevated his average near the Mendoza line. Once a baller always a baller. Age ain’t nothing but a number.