McKenry’s short, but impressive home run list

Pirates’ backup catcher Michael McKenry doesn’t hit home runs often, but when he does, they are usually hit off of high-profile pitchers. Not only has “The Fort” supplied the Bucs with power over the past few games in which Rod Barajas has been down with injury, but he’s also supplying some solid production. Coming into the Philadelphia series, McKenry was hitting just .174 in 25 games. However, he has gone 7 for 11 (.636 avg) in the past three games, and boosted his batting average to .237 for the season. Manager Clint Hurdle said, “He’s really showed up well. We needed him.” It’s great to see some production from the light-hitting, backup catcher. Here’s a look at all seven of his major league home runs.

1. 7/8/11 Video HERE.
Pitcher: Carlos Marmol
His first Major League HR was a big one- it came off Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol in the bottom of the eighth in a tie ballgame. PNC Park was rocking and rolling on a Friday night as the Bucs were getting hot at the beginning of July. Michael McKenry was the hero, and became a fan-favorite because of it.

2. 7/26/11 Video HERE.
Pitcher: Tommy Hanson
Fort’s next home run came in the second inning of a game that will go down in history. Six hours later, McKenry was involved in a play at the plate that is a bit too familiar for Pirates fans. It was a physically and emotionally draining game for the Bucs, and they never recovered from it.

3. 4/12/12 Video HERE
Pitcher: Chris Capuano
McKenry’s first homer of the 2012 campaign came at Dodger Stadium. He crushed Capuano’s 2-1 offering to deep center field.

4. 5/15/12 Video HERE
Pitcher: Josh Johnson
His next HR was hit in the brand new Marlins Ballpark against hard-throwing right-hander, Josh Johnson. McKenry lined JJ’s 0-1 offering over the left field wall.

5. 5/21/12 Video HERE
Pitcher: Johan Santana
Another big time homer for the Fort came on May 21st when he tied the game against Johan Santana and the Mets. The Pirates went on to win the game, 5-4.

6. 6/26/12 Video HERE
Pitcher: Jonathan Papelbon
McKenry launched a homer off Philadelphia’s lethal closer to pull the game within one run; however, too many miscues cost the Bucs a chance to win.

7. 6/27/12 Video HERE
Pitcher: Raul Valdes
After an early 2-0 deficit, the Pirates answered quickly with McKenry’s 3-run blast in the top of the second inning. The Bucs went on to win, 11-7.

The Fort doesn’t supply too much power, but five homers is pretty solid from a backup catcher. However, it’s not just the home runs he’s hitting, but it’s the pitchers he’s hitting them against; some of the guys on the list are top pitchers in the league. Carlos Marmol and Chris Capuano have both been all-stars. Tommy Hanson is one of the best young pitchers in the game; in his short career, he’s 40-26 with a 3.33 ERA (8-4, 3.54 ERA in 2012). Josh Johnson has been to two All-Star Games. Johan Santana, who’s arguably the best pitcher on the list, is a four-time all-star, two-time Cy Young Award winner, and tossed the Mets’ first no-hitter in franchise history last month. Jonathan Papelbon is also a four-time all-star, and won a World Series ring in 2007.

McKenry has been labeled as a “scrappy” player, and just by looking at the list of pitchers he’s gone yard against, he seems to be deserving of the title. At 5’10”, 215, he may not be the biggest player on the diamond, but he’s definitely a battler. He’s just a .216 lifetime hitter, but he sure gives it his all. Not sold? Just look at this list of pitchers. There probably aren’t too many players that can say they’ve hit homers off the likes of Johan Santana, Josh Johnson, Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Marmol, etc. Hopefully McKenry can keep battling against tough pitchers when he gets his opportunities.

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