LHP Drew Pomeranz returned to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, a far more effective pitcher than when they optioned him to Class AAA Colorado Springs on May 11.
He allowed one unearned run and two singles in six innings with three walks and one strikeout and threw 80 pitches, 46 strikes. Pomeranz joins Jeff Francis on Friday against the Padres and Christian Friedrich on June 22 at Texas as the only Rockies starters to pitch six innings in 13 games since the four-man rotation was implemented on June 19.
Manager Jim Tracy said Pomeranz "actually put on a clinic as far as I'm concerned on pitching inside and pitching effectively inside. He was terrific and he looked different than he did earlier in the season when he was here. His (arm) slot was higher and his hand was behind the ball."
Pomeranz got 10 outs on ground balls and sat at 92-93 mph with his four-seam fastball, which is more velocity than he had in his earlier stint with the Rockies -- five starts from April 15 through May 7 when he went 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA.
The development and progress of their young pitchers will be the top priority for the Rockies as they try to draw something from this disappointing season. Pomeranz is integral to that process. He was the centerpiece acquisition when the Rockies traded Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians on July 30 last season for Pomeranz and three other minor leaguers.
This season, Pomeranz said things started to click at Colorado Springs on June 19 when he pitched six hitless innings.
"It just feels right again," he said. "It was more about getting back into myself. I'd kind of gotten away from it at the end of last year, just rushing a little too much. Now I'm more relaxed and loose out there."
The Padres, who won the rubber game of the series 2-0, scored their unearned run off Pomeranz in the third. Chris Denorfia led off with a single, and third baseman Jordan Pacheco opted to play Logan Forsythe's short blooper near the mound on a bounce rather than chance catching it. Pacheco then threw the ball past first base and so far down the right-field line that Denorfia scored.
"I just located my fastball," Pomeranz said about his outing. "I didn't throw a lot of off-speed, didn't really need it. Just kind of showed it for strikes or threw it off my fastball. I broke a lot of bats and got a lot of ground ball outs."
In his earlier stay with the Rockies, Pomeranz did not have his hand on top of the ball, so it was cutting but not cutting late the way his four-seam fastball did against the Padres with the higher arm slot and hand on top of the ball.
"It's even later than before and harder," Pomeranz said.