If you told Rockies fans at the beginning of the year that on September 11, Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton would not be playing and the highlight of the game for a sub-.500 team would be a 6-foot-5 rookie pitcher from Mississippi, they might have punched you in the throat, started drinking or both. But yesterday, the three biggest names on the Rockies were on the bench with minor injuries while Drew Pomeranz, the prize of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, crushed his major league debut.
Operating on a 65-pitch limit, Pomeranz made the most of his limited bow by tossing five shutout innings and earning the win as the Rockies beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-1. He struck out the first batter he faced with four pitches and notched another strikeout, also walking two batters and hitting one.
There was a lot to like for Rockies fans in yesterday's debut. Pomeranz needed only 63 pitches to get through his five innings. The two hits he allowed were singles -- one of the infield variety. He utilized his sinker to induce two double plays and nine ground ball outs total -- a life-saving ability when pitching at Coors Field.
The fifth overall pick of the 2010 draft is still only 22. He breezed through the minors, notching just 101 innings between the Cleveland Indians and Rockies organizations before proving himself ready for the big show. In two outings with the Tulsa Drillers, the Rockies' Double-A team, nine of his ten innings were perfect.
The fact that Pomeranz even made a start in the majors this year, let alone such an impressive one, is remarkable. Three days after his first start with the Drillers, he had an emergency appendectomy. At that point, most assumed his season was over. But Pomeranz threw three perfect innings for Tulsa just over two weeks after having his appendix taken out.
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Pomeranz has a quick and compact delivery, making the lefty's 90-92 mph fastball seem much faster. And he pitches as if he's going to get extra outs for maintaining a quick pace.
Pomeranz also might have felt comfortable yesterday because so many of his teammates from Tulsa are now in the big leagues. Catcher Wilin Rosaria has been getting a lot of work behind the plate and Jordan Pacheco, who has a home run and six RBIs in four starts, has played at third and first base. And Tommy Field, who was in Oklahoma on Saturday, was called into action Sunday because seemingly every other Rockies infielder was injured.
While Rockies fans would like for Tulo and Cargo to be powering the Rox towards the playoffs at this point, it's Pomeranz who is providing hope -- albeit for next season.
More from our Baseball archive: "Rockies' Mike Jacobs becomes first U.S. professional athlete to test positive for HGH."