Clint Hurdle has benched Andrew McCutchen for tonight’s game after the Pirates center fielder failed to run to first base yesterday when the catcher dropped a third strike, according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Hurdle taking that stance isn’t surprising–Dunlap notes that he did the same thing to Ronny Cedeno last month–but it’s definitely coming at an interesting time given reports that the Pirates and McCutchen have been making progress on a long-term contract extension that would likely be worth more than $50 million.
As for the actual play in question, having watched the replay it definitely didn’t look like McCutchen would have been safe had he run it out, but that’s the type of situation where nothing is lost by displaying a little hustle and forcing the catcher to simply make a throw to first base can occasionally lead to an error.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: