|Drew Pomeranz was unimpressive in his 2013 debut.|
The Rockies didn't get a great start from Drew Pomeranz in his 2013 debut, but he would have had to be nearly perfect if he was going to pick up a win.
The left-hander, relegated to Triple-A to work out his command issues, showed exactly why he wasn't at the big league level, despite a rotation that was in desperate need of help from the get-go. On Sunday he only lasted 4-1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. He struck out five, but walked four and gave up two home runs.
Pomeranz wasn't helped out by his defense. In the 5th inning Andres Torres led off with a single up the middle. Tony Abreu followed that with a double off the center field wall that Tyler Colvin played awkwardly, but got the ball back to the infield in time to hold the runner at third base. In a jam with no one out, Pomeranz was able to get Buster Posey to ground out to second base. After DJ LeMahieu looked the runner back to third base, he threw to Jordan Pacheco at first base. With Torres holding at third, Abreu had taken off, as if the contact play was on. The Rockies had a chance to get a double play and leave Pomeranz with just one out to get with a runner at third and no damage done.
Instead, Pacheco didn't fire directly back to second base, he looked Torres back to third base, then realized he didn't have much time to get the ball to second to get the scrambling Abreu out. He fired quickly and wildly, launching the ball into left field, allowing Torres to score, giving the Giants not only an extra out, but also left a runner in scoring position.
Possibly flustered, Pomeranz promptly gave up a two-run home run to Hunter Pence, giving the Giants a 4-0 lead. Pomeranz then walked two batters before Walt Weiss pulled the plug and went with Wilton Lopez.
The reality was, the outing wasn't what Pomeranz--or the Rockies--were looking for. However, it wasn't the worst outing he could have had. There were some signs of hope for the prized piece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. Instead of relying on his fastball like he did throughout the 2012 season, Pomeranz was able to get his off-speed pitches across the plate for strikes. Not all of them were perfect, but that will take time to adjust from Triple-A hitters to big league hitters.
The biggest step for Pomeranz is to stop being his own worst enemy. Possibly putting too much pressure on himself, the former first-round draft pick loses his composure when things don't go his way. As any great pitcher will say, one of the first things a pitcher must control is his own mindset. If things go wrong, that is the last thing that will go wrong all day long. A pitcher has to believe that regardless of what happened with the previous batter, in the previous inning, in his previous start, that the pitcher is better than that batter that is stepping into the box and that he is going to get him out. Pomeranz has the stuff, but his body language doesn't suggest a confidence that he is going to get the job done.
The bigger issue than Pomeranz on Sunday was something that is becoming an alarming trend for the Rockies. Their offense can't get it together. It was clear that without Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup that the team would struggle, but struggling to this level is shocking. In three games against the Giants--two of which were wins--the Rockies scored eight total runs. In four games on the homestand, the Rockies have scored an average of 2.5 runs per game. That comes after scoring only seven total runs in two games in Boston.
On Sunday Madison Bumgarner was phenomenal. His slider was so deceptive that the Rockies offense stood little chance. However, when the offense is producing at such a terrible level, the idea that an offense gets to write off a loss as simply facing a great pitcher goes out the window.
In a division that seems to not have a team that really wants to win it, the Rockies have as good of a chance as anyone. Their starting pitching must continue doing a good enough job to keep the offense in the game. However, that offense, which has been so highly touted, simply must start to hit. They must dominate the average pitchers and they must scratch out runs against the best pitchers. When they get a good pitching performance, they have to take advantage of it.
The Rockies get a day off on Monday before facing Clayton Kershaw and then Zach Grienke. This homestand, right before a 10-game west coast swing, is crucial. They must do well against the Dodgers and find a way to stay close before heading to Arizona to start that trip.
The offense must start hitting the ball. They must start putting together good at-bats and supporting their starting pitching.
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