Andrew McCutchen gets a winning shot for the Brewers

BALTIMORE — Andrew McCutchen took a look around the Brewers clubhouse and felt right at home.

It was April 6, the day after the Brewers left spring training in Arizona and the day before the season opener at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The team practiced at American Family Field in Milwaukee that afternoon, and McCutchen identified the location of his new locker. He found it suitable.

“I made a joke and it’s actually not a joke, it’s reality,” McCutchen said Tuesday after capping a three-RBI game with the RBI go-ahead in the hard-fought victory of the Brewers 5-4 against the Orioles at Oriole Park in Camden Yards. “My locker there is in the same place as my locker in Pittsburgh. The locker right next to the bathroom. I walked in and it was like the same thing.

“Man, that’s pretty cool. It’s kind of like home. It feels comfortable, relaxed. I feel like it’s a good fit and I plan to do some more damage here.

McCutchen did most of the damage for the Brewers on Tuesday, delivering a two-run double in the first inning and a decisive single with two outs and two strikes in the seventh that propelled Milwaukee to victory in its first night game of the season.

The Orioles’ decision to pitch to McCutchen with a left-hander on the mound, two outs, the tying runner at third and left-handed hitter Rowdy Tellez on the deck may have been one of the items on their list of regrets. There was also an error charged to Baltimore shortstop Chris Owings on a first-inning out attempt that preceded McCutchen’s brace for a 2-0 lead, and another error charged to starting Spenser Watkins in the third who not only explained how the Brewers’ Willy Adames scored from second base on a bouncer to pitcher, but also extended that inning for Hunter Renfroe’s first RBI with Milwaukee on a booming brace.

Those runs erased a Baltimore lead built on Cedric Mullins’ grand slam in a second run marred by the Brewers’ own regrets. Starter Eric Lauer walked a pair with two outs in the inning around a receiver’s interference call against Omar Narváez. Mullins quickly cashed in with a snap on the right center field seats.

It was still a 4-4 game in the seventh when Adames – who reached safely three times, scored three and made a sensational jump late in the seventh to help the Brewers close the gap to Devin Williams and Josh Hader late in the game – started the rally with a one-out brace.

That prompted the Orioles to call left-hander Cionel Pérez, who had to face three batters or end the inning. He retired the left-handed hitter he was called up to, Christian Yelich, to elevate McCutchen, whose left-right splits last season with Philadelphia were severe.

The Orioles chose to pursue him anyway.

“I didn’t know if [Brewers manager Craig Counsell was] Gonna bring a right-hander behind me, bring Keston [Hiura] or someone like that,” McCutchen said. “That was kind of my assumption. That’s what I was like. Whatever it takes to be at bat, that’s what I was trying to do. I was able to get the job done.”

Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless seventh inning with the help of the Adames glove before Williams and Hader combined to put a slew of Orioles on the bases and pin them there for an all-around tag team win.

In a small sample, the 35-year-old McCutchen had exactly the impact the Brewers were hoping for when they signed him a month ago to a one-year, $8.5 million deal to serve primarily as a designated hitter. With 21 plate appearances on the books, he has the team’s lowest strikeout rate (14.3%) and three doubles. He was also exactly the clubhouse presence he was known to be during his long career.

“We’re embracing it right now,” Adames said. “I try to learn from him. He brings that energy every day, and the way he plays the game, he’s always in the game and trying to help the guys.

On a whiteboard entering the visitors’ pavilion in Baltimore was the word of the day: “Energy.” McCutchen learns ways to keep his own energy high in the role of DH.

“Do less. That’s it, just do less,” he said. of their career, you find a formula that works for you. … It’s still a work in progress. It’s still early for me. But don’t overdo it, that’s the most important thing.

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