Red Sox Drew Pomeranz Commands Respect
The Boston Red Sox took flack from some of their loyal supporters for trading a solid prospect for Drew Pomeranz. Last night, he just put them on notice.
Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox president of baseball operations, made the trade to send Anderson Espinoza to the San Diego Padres for the 27-year-old pitcher from Tennessee. Pomeranz has been with a number of teams, since being drafted in 2007; however, he was protected like a brand new race car, never allowed to rev the engine for very long. The mystery of his potential rubbed some of the Fenway faithful the wrong way, believing more in a talent grown in their own farm system than in someone bouncing around other systems.
With the starting rotation struggling in July, the move for Pomeranz was as much an act of desperation as a move for the future. Dombrowski handed manager John Farrell the keys to Pomeranz and gave him permission to burn rubber.
Instead, the lefty went 0-2 in three starts in July, allowing 12 runs. The first game was especially tough, giving up two home runs on a platter and getting the hook after eight hits in just three innings.
Two more no-decisions in early August didn’t help the stigma around him, but Pomeranz wasn’t as bad as he was in July. In an away game against the Seattle Mariners, Pomeranz threw six innings and allowed only two earned runs on four hits. The fans didn’t let him off the hook when he walked six batters to tie his strikeouts. The home game against the New York Yankees did help deliver an olive branch to Red Sox Nation, as he allowed only one run, a solo homer, on six hits, one walk, and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He would have won the game if Boston would have not been in a scoring slump at the time.
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Despite those two performances, the jury was still out if Pomeranz could handle the workload. Boston needed him to show why he was made an All-Star for the first time this season, with many of their own starters either injured, inconsistent, or even banished to the bullpen likeClay Buchholz
. Yet, since 2011, between his time with the Colorado Rockies, the Oakland Athletics, and the Padres, Pomeranz had only thrown just under an average of 72 MLB innings per season. The most that he ever threw was 96.2 innings in 2012, when Pomeranz went 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA and gave up 14 home runs.
Before coming to Boston, the Padres already had made Pomeranz throw 102 innings.
Pomeranz finally earned his first win as a Red Sox starting pitcher against the hot Cleveland Indians on August 15th, holding the American League Central division leaders to two runs on five hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. Yet, not many people in Boston wanted to celebrate the Pomeranz trade as much as they wanted to hold their breath for his next start.
Last night’s performance against the Tigers means a great deal more. Even though Pomeranz went only five innings, he allowed only one run on four hits, no walks, and three strikeouts, putting his ERA to 2.95.
Pomeranz was only relieved in the sixth inning, after dominating the Tigers, because of a very long rain delay. He was cruising through the Tigers, as it took only 51 pitches, 39 for strikes, to get the victory, 3-2. He induced six ground-ball outs to only two flyball outs, keeping the pitches low in the strike zone.
What makes the win so important, for Pomeranz and the Red Sox, was who they beat and when they beat them. The Tigers were climbing the wildcard standings ladder on the Red Sox, even while Boston was on their six-game winning streak. Boston fumbled throughout the first of the three-game series, despite a good performance by Buchholz, and lost the game, setting the tone that the Tigers would catch up. After the Red Sox won the second game, it was up to Pomeranz to carry the team to a much-needed series win.
Last night’s win helped Boston shrug off the pouncing Tigers, sending them back to being 3.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the last wildcard spot. The Orioles also lost a couple of games to sit two games back of Boston, who now are just a half-game back of the Toronto Blue Jays in the A.L. East.
The six-game win streak was great momentum, but Pomeranz helping Boston to earn the series win over a very tough opponent was vital to keep the team focused. With the race so close in the A.L., the Red Sox likely cannot afford to lose any series for the rest of the regular season, if they wish to see playoff baseball in the fall. Last night’s start also set the tone for the next opponent for Pomeranz. His .205 opposing batting average puts him fourth in the majors, suggesting that Pomeranz has plans to command Red Sox Nation’s respect for the foreseeable future.