Even in the tensest of moments, Andrew McCutchen is willing to bring some levity.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded against the woeful A’s, McCutchen worked a walk to bring the game within one. It was a fascinating at-bat, as Oakland reliever Shintaro Fujinami was all over the zone, but worked it back full.
Fujinami went up and in each of the first three pitches of the bat, all of which missed the zone. He also nearly drilled McCutchen with an 89 mph cutter to begin the at-bat.
After the third non-competitive pitch, McCutchen turned towards the Pirates dugout and was spotted shouting “green light?” The cameras didn’t pan to Derek Shelton in the dugout, but McCutchen’s reaction suggested the answer was no.
Shelton confirmed that was, in fact, what McCutchen was saying – quipping, actually – during his weekly appearance on The Cook & Joe Show.
“That is indeed what happened,” Shelton said. “He turned and had the green light -- he did have the green light. He knew he wasn’t going to swing because of the three other pitches that had happened.
“I think that is just the mystique of Cutch, the fun of Cutch. In the middle of a contested ballgame having a little bit of fun. But yeah, he definitely has a green light, and he knew it. I think he was just messing with me a little bit.”
Fujinami threw a called strike to bring the count to 3-1, then McCutchen fouled off three pitches before taking a walk. After the 3-0 pitch, everything McCutchen saw from Fujinami was 100 mph or faster.
While McCutchen might not be as electric of a hitter as he once was, his approach remains fantastic. Monday’s pivotal walk was further evidence of how indispensable he has been to the Pirates’ success this season.