MOOSIC — Erik Swanson vs. Josh Rogers. Round two.
In the last series between the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Norfolk Tides, Swanson lined up with his old teammate perfectly. The right-hander drew Rogers on Aug. 8 and both spun seven scoreless innings.
Sunday featured the very same matchup as the RailRiders looked to take the crucial four-game series against Norfolk. While neither Swanson nor Rogers pitched as well as they did almost two weeks ago, the two went punch-for-punch.
Despite neither pitcher getting the decision, Rogers stood tall as the Tides won for the second time in two tries with him on the mound against his old team, holding off a RailRiders comeback, 7-6.
“I talked to him after the game,” Swanson said of Rogers. “Talked to him the last couple days, too, hanging around. He sent me a text before the game. He said, ‘Let’s do it again.’ So I was like, ‘All right.’ ”
“Yeah, I wanted a (winning) decision in one of the games, for sure, but I’m glad our team won both of them,” Rogers added. “I just try to give my team a chance to win. That’s what I’ve said from literally the first time I’ve talked to you guys — was just trying to give my team a chance. Hung in there today, we put some good swings on the ball. I think it was a good series.”
Even though he gave up four runs, one unearned, Swanson felt there were some positives to take out of his outing.
Until a two-run sixth inning, the 24-year-old right-hander only gave up a third-inning, solo homer to Jaycob Brugman and saw Mike Yastrzemski score in the first inning as an unearned run after he got to third on his lead-off double. Swanson retired the side in both the second and fourth and, after a lead-off walk in the fifth, he sat down the next three batters he faced.
But then Swanson pitched himself into some trouble in the sixth inning. The Tides started the frame with three straight hits, including an RBI double by Pedro Alvarez. A sacrifice fly by Chance Sisco in the next at-bat was the final straw for Swanson and provided Norfolk with a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Swanson gave up the four runs over six innings on seven hits and a walk. He did strike out five.
“I thought I did some good things today,” Swanson said. “I would have liked to mix my pitches a little bit better than I actually did. That was the biggest thing I kind of took away from today. I didn’t quite mix them, and I think that’s why I got beat, especially there in the sixth.
“I had already seen the guys a couple times through the order and they start picking up what you’ve been doing the entire game and I didn’t switch it up.”
Rogers admitted he didn’t feel as strong on the mound as he did in his previous four starts for the Tides since he was traded on July 24, but he was able to battle.
After giving up a two-run blast to Rey Navarro in the bottom of the second inning, the 24-year-old southpaw was able to settle down. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre only got runners to second base once more in his five innings of work and the only other run he gave up was a solo shot by Abiatal Avelino.
Rogers gave up three runs on six hits and a walk and struck out a pair. The Norfolk starting pitcher didn’t come back out for the sixth after hitting his five-inning limit that was set for him on Sunday.
“I felt OK,” Rogers said. “A little flat, my slider wasn’t very good today and I kind of fell behind in counts. I think I threw the ball OK.
“They put some good swings on the ball, but I kind of navigated my way through the lineup a little bit.”
Rogers couldn’t help but admit that it felt a little weird pitching against his old team again. Especially at PNC Field.
Whether it was comments his former teammates were making during the game or the fact the PA announcer welcomed Rogers back to Moosic before he threw his first pitch in the bottom of the first, it was just a little different.
But an experience he certainly won’t forget.
“Tyler Wade, when he runs by me, he’ll say a few things, like, ‘Nice pitch. Or, ‘Way to make your pitch.’ Or, ‘I hate you.’ Or something like that. No, it’s fun,” Rogers said. “It’s such a weird experience because I hear people in the dugout and I’m trying to as professional as possible and not laugh and have fun, but those are my guys. It’s a lot of fun to do it and hopefully finish the year strong.”
“It’s always fun, man,” Wade added with a chuckle. “I’m a little pissed he got me out, but he’s a good pitcher, man. He keeps you off-balance. I wish him nothing but luck.”
Trailing 7-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the RailRiders were able to make things interesting.
Zack Zehner started the rally with a lead-off double off of the wall in left field. The bases were loaded after Francisco Diaz worked a one-out walk and Devyn Bolasky kept the train rolling with a single to center.
Then with Wade looking for his first hit of the afternoon, he delivered with an RBI single to right field. Luke Voit worked a walk with the bases loaded two batter later to make it 7-6.
But just as the RailRiders really started to get hot, Norfolk reliever Tim Melville was able to pitch out of the jam when he got Mike Ford to get under a ball and fly out to center to end the inning.
“I thought the team battled really well — came back,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “We didn’t have any shutdown innings. I think that’s what hurt us.”
• RHP Luis Cessa will make a start for Double-A Trenton on Monday. With the RailRiders off, this keeps him in line.
• OF Ryan McBroom (back) is feeling “a lot better,” according to RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell. The RailRider still hope he’ll be ready to return on Wednesday when he’s able to come off of the 7-day DL.
• OF Mark Payton (lower body bruise) is still “slow,” according to Mitchell. The team hopes the bruise gets better with the day off on Tuesday.
• INF Abiatal Avelino has no issues with his shoulder. He text Mitchell at 6:44 a.m. on Sunday letting his manager know that he was “100 percent.” Avelino was 1-for-5 with a home run in his return.
Tides 7, RailRiders 6
E: Rosa (9), Wade 2 (9); OA: Wade (Tejada at HP); DP: Tides 1, RailRiders 0; LOB: Tides 4, RailRiders 11; 2B: Yastrzemski (14), Tejada 2 (14), Zehner (15); HR: Brugman (4), Dosch (7), Navarro (10), Avelino (5); SF: Sisco; SB: Stewart (10), Surum (1).
Norfolk`101`002`210 — 7
RailRiders`020`011`020 — 6
Ejections: Norfolk manager Ron Johnson by HP Mike Wiseman.
Umpires: Mike Wiseman, HP; John Bacon, 1B; Richard Riley, 3B.
Time: 2:51; Attendance: 7,079.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle