Great weather (61 degrees). Nice crowd (second largest in PNC history). Home for the first time after a successful road trip to start the season. A fitting tribute to Chuck Tanner before the game. Everything went according to plan except someone silenced the bats. That someone was Esmil Rogers.
Rogers came into the game with nine career starts and two career wins (one in relief and one as a starter). That lone win as a starter came 8/8/10 in Pittsburgh when faced Pittsburgh for the first time in his career.
Things got off to a rocky start once the pre-game ceremonies ceased. Neil Walker threw away a double play grounder with one out in the bottom of the first. That miscue allowed one run to score and put Carlos Gonzalez – who had hit the ball to Walker – on third. He scored on a sac fly from Troy Tulowitzki.
The Pirates nearly tied it in the first. Jose Tabata and Walker singled. A shaken Rogers uncorked a wild one, putting runners on second and third. Andrew McCutchen’s grounder scored Tabata, with Walker holding at second. But Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez grounded out to end the inning. Then Rogers got down to business. The Pirates would get just one more base runner until the eighth inning. In the second to last frame, Ronny Cedeno and Steve Pearce each singled, driving Rogers from the game. But reliever Matt Belisle got Tabata to bounce into a double play to end the inning.
Tulowitzki homered with no one aboard in the fourth against Pirate starter Paul Maholm. Clint Hurdle allowed Maholm to hit for himself and he made the last out of the fifth. But he didn’t last through six. Ryan Spillborghs led off the sixth with a double. Gonzalez singled him home and Tulowitzki drove in his third run of the game with a double. He was nailed at third trying to get one more base.
Rogers went 7-1/3 and gave up one run on four singles and a walk. He struck out seven. Maholm allowed eight hits and walked none in 5-2/3. He gave up five runs and with the first inning error from Walker, only three were earned.
Tabata has a seven game hitting streak.
Michael Crotta has yet to give up a run on the season.
Absence of sticks.
Walker’s error put Maholm into a hole early.
Chris Resop gave up two runs in relief.
Rogers is the only player in the history of MLB to have Esmil as a first name.
Nate McLouth had a 19 game hitting streak to start the 2008 season, marking the longest hitting streak to start the season since Charlie Grimm had a 25 game streak in 1923.