PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Fans had high hopes as the Pirates, coming off a 4-2 record on the road, returned home to PNC Park to usher in baseball season in Pittsburgh.
But despite the optimism, the Buccos stumbled in their home opener, falling 7-1 to the Colorado Rockies.
Andrew McCutchen drove in the Pirates’ sole run, as the Pirates struggled with Esmil Rogers on the mound who dominated over 7 1-3 innings.
Rogers, a right-hander and No. 5 starter for the Rockies, overwhelmed the Pirates with a devastating 95 mph fastball with a few breaking pitches. He had seven strikeouts.
Paul Maholm (0-1) earned a 2.19 ERA and allowed 8 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs and 1 strike out.
Neil Walker made a throwing error in the first that helped the Rockies take a 2-0 lead.
With one out and a runner at first, he cleanly fielded Carlos Gonzalez’s tailor-made double play ball but threw wildly to second, the ball skipping past shortstop Ronny Cedeno and into foul
territory. By the time the Pirates corralled it, Dexter Fowler had scored and Gonzalez was at third. Tulowitzki’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0.
“I felt like I let the air out of the entire building,” Walker said. “I made Paul’s job a whole lot harder for him. I just blew it. A terrible play.”
Troy Tulowitzki connected for his third homer in the fourth off Maholm to make it 3-1 as the Rockies won their fourth straight. The All-Star shortstop is batting .451 (46 of 102) with six homers and 18 RBIs in his career against Pittsburgh.
“He’s a game changer in the field and a game changer with the bat,” said Hurdle, who managed Tulowitzki for three-plus seasons.
Following a 4-2 trip to Chicago and St. Louis, the Pirates, who won only 17 road games last season, were welcomed home warmly by 39,219 fans – the second-largest crowd in PNC Park history – who were eager to see if a team full of youngsters that lost 105 times in 2010 had grown up.
It’s still too early to say.
“It’s just one game,” McCutchen said. “You feel like you owe it to the fans to win on opening day.”
Hurdle’s first home game for Pittsburgh came against the Rockies, the team he took to the World Series in 2007 and skippered for eight-plus seasons before being fired two years ago. It was also a homecoming of sorts for Colorado manager Jim Tracy, a close of friend of Hurdle, who managed the Pirates in 2006-07.
The two shared a hug and some laughs before the game, but then it was all business.
“I really wanted to beat them,” Hurdle said.
During pregame ceremonies, the Pirates paid tribute to part of their past by honoring late manager Chuck Tanner, who guided Pittsburgh to their most recent World Series title in 1979, when Sister Sledge’s disco hit “We Are A Family” became a championship anthem.