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Pittsburgh’s McCutchen carrying Pirates to NL Central Title

The Pittsburgh Pirates have business to finish this season and Andrew McCutchen plans to be a big part of making that happen. The Pirates start the second half of their season on Friday following the four-day All-Star break.

Pittsburgh currently sits in second place in the National League Central with a record of 56-37 just one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Pirates and Cardinals have flip-flopped first and second the past month. However, leading up to the All-Star break Pittsburgh slipped somewhat losing 6 of their last 10, while St. Louis won 7 of its last 10 overall.

This season however, the Pirates have shown they are a contender and McCutchen wants to help them move to the next level. As a rookie he lived through a season of 62-99, which put them 28 ½ games behind first place in the NL Central.

The following year is was worse; the Pirates won just 57 games while losing 105. Over the past two seasons, under the guidance of Clint Hurdle the Pirates have won 72 and 79 games.

Pittsburgh looks to add to its wins on Friday when they resume their schedule with the Cincinnati Reds.

McCutchen and his teammates know they have faded in the second half of the past two seasons, but his constant prodding has helped push the team.

McCutchen is the face of this organization and its driving force. He re-signed in 2012 for six years making a long-term commitment to the franchise and the city.

He made the All Star team this season for the third time but did not fare well striking out twice.

The Pirates placed four other players on the NL roster, giving them five All-Stars. That has not happened for the Pirates since Manny Sanguillen, Al Oliver, Roberto Clemente, Steve Blass and Willie Stargell were All-Stars for the Pirates in 1972.

The offense has not had a great season thus far, as they are low down the line in runs scored at 26th. However, both his teammates and McCutchen seem to be rounding into form.

Pedro Alvarez is becoming a menace to opposing pitchers and is well on his way to his second straight 30 home run season.

McCutchen has become the leader of the Pirates not only through is leadership, but by the way he plays. Since 2010, the Pirates centerfielder is 11th in games played and 12th in plate appearances in the majors.

Through the first half of the season this, McCutchen considers his play to be average by his standards.

His slugging percentage is down from .552 last season to a current .471. However, he is striking out just 14.2 % of the time compared to 19.6% last year.

He started slow with a batting average in April of .247, but since then each month has hit .324, .303 and in July .372.

With McCutchen’s consistency, Alvarez’s power and the speed and versatility of Sterling Marte, the Pirates look to move it up a notch in the second half and take the NL Central crown.


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