Hey, you could it feel it building: a young team with a couple of wins under their belt, a beautiful spring day with 39,219 fans on hand for the home opener - the second largest crowd in Pirate history - and the team's longest tenured hurler on the hill. The stage was set for the Pirates to create a little buzz around the City.
Well, that they did, but not exactly the kind they hoped to generate. The Rockies pummeled the Pirates 7-1. Dexter Fowler started the game off with a single, and it went downhill after that.
A DP ball spanked to Neil Walker was short-hopped into left field on the feed, scoring Fowler and allowing Carlos Gonzalez to chug into third. He eventually came in, and it was 2-0 before the fans got to settle in.
It looked like it would develop into a battle when Jose Tabata and Walker started the frame with singles to put runners on the corner. A McCutch grounder made it 2-1, and it stayed in hand until the sixth. Paul Maholm was giving up warning-track outs but only one more run on Troy Tulowitzki's bomb while Esmil Rogers was mowing down Bucs like they were April weeds.
But in the sixth, the Rox banged four knocks out and built the lead to 5-1. Maholm got the hook after compiling a line of 5-2/3 innings, five runs (three earned) on eight hits with a K. Chris Resop got the final out of the frame, but could only get one more in the seventh, giving up three hits and two runs before Garrett Olson sat Colorado down.
Rogers went 7-1/3, giving up four hits and a run, striking out a career high seven batters. Two Rox relievers put the Bucs away without a hit.
Oh well, let's hope the Pirates put this one in their rear-view mirror and give the faithful a better show tomorrow when right-hander Ross Ohlendorf faces Rockies lefty Jorge De La Rosa.
-- Bench coach Jeff Banister, who has been with the Pirates for over 25 years, was presented with the 2011 Pride of the Pirates award.
-- Between today and Saturday, Class A Bradenton will have Chris Snyder, Joe Beimel and Brad Lincoln join the roster for rehab duty. Don't let the designation concern you; it's the top warm-weather club in the organization and the logical choice for an April workout.
-- Ben Badler of Baseball America had this to say about two top Pirate prospects: "Love (Starling) Marte's tools but I'd like to see a better approach at the plate from him before people get too excited. Among non-Top 10 Pirates prospects, I really like Diego Moreno. Never going to be a starter, but a power arm that misses that many bats with his fastball/slider package has value at the back of the bullpen."
-- Lastings Milledge was DFA'ed by the White Sox. Too bad; he hustled and worked hard while he was here, but just couldn't overcome his lack of baseball A-B-Cs. And at the age of 26, he's not likely to ever pick them up.