Four players in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization were elected to either the Major League All-Star Game or the Futures Game – Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan to the Midsummer Classic and Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon to the All-Star Futures Game.
The week started out with the Futures Game on Sunday. Gerrit Cole pitched the second inning for the USA team, and he struck out Xander Bogaerts to start off, then quickly got Wilmer Flores to ground out. Cole was throwing flames, retiring the first two batters on 99 and 97 mph fastballs. He hit 100 against Jesus Aguilar, but he issued a walk. Cole then showed what everybody who has been following him knows – he can blow hitters away with his incredible stuff, but he needs to work on his command, when he allowed a two-run home run to Jae-Hoon Ha on a fastball over the plate at 95 mph. Home runs are rally killers, though, as Cole struck out the next batter on a nasty slider to end his inning.
Jameson Taillon would later come in to pitch the second inning. He made a great pitch, a 98 mph fastball down and outside, but it was hit for a double. The next batter flied out on another 98 mph fastball. Oswaldo Arcia hit an opposite-field double down the right field line to drive in Sanchez on a curveball knee-high on the outside corner. Taillon looked like he was going to be hit very hard, but he got out of the inning on a very lucky double play, throwing a hanging curveball and the shortstop made an incredible play.
On Monday, Andrew McCutchen participated in the Home Run Derby, the first Pirate to do so since Jason Bay in 2005 in Detroit. He quickly broke the franchise’s record for homers in a Derby, previously held by Barry Bonds with two home runs, by hitting four bombs. Here’s a video clip of McCutchen’s highlights. While four home runs may not seem like a lot, he hit more home runs than Matt Kemp (1) and Robinson Cano (0), as well as tying Carlos Gonzalez. He was also one home run away from advancing to the second round.
In the main event, though, McCutchen and Hanrahan well represented the Pirates. McCutchen entered the game in the fifth inning and remained in center field for the rest of the 8-0 blowout. He went one-for-two, singling in his first at bat, and flashing the Z on base, and grounding out to third – but in true Pirate fashion, he was a hair’s length away from turning it into an infield hit. Joel Hanrahan must have been pretty nervous coming into the game in the ninth inning, throwing three pretty bad balls, one of which was actually a wild pitch, but he was still able to strike out Kansas City’s own Billy Butler on a 98 mph fastball.