Pomeranz Tosses a Stinker but Ramirez Rescues Sox
BOSTON - Drew Pomeranz didn’t win over the trust of skeptical Boston Red Sox fans on Wednesday night.
If anything, his list of doubters only grew.
The newest member of the Red Sox starting rotation, the man who Boston rolled the dice and traded for from the San Diego Padres last week at the expense of treasured 18-year-old right-hander Anderson Espinoza, made his team debut at Fenway Park against the San Francisco Giants. With a chance to back-up the gamble taken by Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi, Pomeranz delivered a stinker.
The 27-year-old lefty was spotted an 8-0 lead after three innings and proceeded to let the Giants climb back in with five runs in the top of the fourth, including home runs by Mac Williamson and Trevor Brown. His night was done after three-plus innings and 80 pitches (48 strikes). He left with no outs and runners on first and second, but Robbie Ross Jr. came in and spared Pomeranz (5er, 8h, 2bb, 4k) of further damage. It took a heroic night from Hanley Ramirez to give the Red Sox an 11-7 victory. Ramirez had his first career game with three home runs to go with a career-high six RBI. He also made several outstanding plays at first base, including a huge 3-2 double play with the bases loaded in the sixth to prevent a run.
The Red Sox, who improved to 53-39 and 11-3 in July, belted five home runs as a team.
“A walk mixed in with a base hit, then a three-run homer. (Pomeranz) couldn’t seem to get an out on the board,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell oh his starter’s shaky fourth. “Unfortunately, it was an early night for him.”
For any hurler making his debut with a new team, there is definitely pressure to pitch well. In Pomeranz’s case, there was unusual pressure. He was brought here from San Diego to bolster an inconsistent staff, the true weakness of a franchise with championship aspirations. On top of that, a prized prospect was surrendered in the process.
The pressure isn’t going away anytime soon - not in this city. So the 6-foot-6 Pomeranz, the fifth overall pick of the 2010 draft, will have to get used to it. He’s not in San Diego anymore, or Oakland, or Colorado. This is pennant-chase baseball, and the southpaw will be along for the ride - for better or for worse.
His problems on Wednesday night were easy to decipher. Pomeranz’s fastballs were routinely 93 mph, not overpowering by any stretch. He needs location and command to be at his best, and both of those qualities were lacking.
“You know, he got some swings and misses on his fastball. I thought he threw a very good curveball, particularly in the second and third innings,” said Farrell. “He threw a number of cutters in some fastball counts. Still, the overall command probably wasn’t what he’s typically going to show.”
Pomeranz was an All-Star this season for the Padres. He was 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA, and 115 strikeouts in 102 innings. But was that an anomaly? In his five seasons prior to 2016 with the A’s and Rockies, Pomeranz had never won more than five games and only made 20 starts in a season once, in 2012 when he went 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA.
Some of the detractors of the trade are concerned as to how Pomeranz will handle facing AL lineups. He made 53 appearances for Oakland last year, but only nine starts. That was a whole different animal than what he is being asked to do in Boston.
On Wednesday, he was making his fourth start of the season against San Francisco, a team that was in his same division when he was in San Diego. But by the fourth inning, Pomeranz was serving up BP.
On the positive side, it was still a win for the Red Sox, who moved a half-game ahead of the Orioles for first place. It was also a historically great night for Ramirez. Fans will bask in that glory for now.
But the next time Pomeranz takes the mound, the skepticism will return. It will be there until he makes it go away.