By Pat Graham/The Associated Press
DENVER — As expected, Drew Pomeranz was quite nervous in his major league debut.
Only, not on the mound, but with a bat in his hands in his one and only plate appearance.
Even then, Pomeranz was a success, laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt. It was just that kind of day for the prized prospect.
Pomeranz, a former standout at Ole Miss, threw five shutout innings and Ty Wigginton homered, helping the Colorado Rockies to a 4-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
Pomeranz (1-0) was a key piece in the deal that sent ace Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland at the trade deadline. He showed exactly why the Rockies coveted him, allowing just two singles.
And there were hardly any traces of nerves, either, even as he glanced around expansive Coors Field.
“I try not to think about that when I’m on the mound,” Pomeranz said with a casual shrug. “Mentally, I took it as any other game.”
The 22-year-old lefty threw only 63 pitches before leaving in the fifth. He is three weeks removed from an emergency appendectomy and is still building up his arm strength.
Jason Hammel, a starter turned reliever, pitched four innings to earn his first save of the season.
Pomeranz hasn’t pitched in many games since he was acquired in the five-player deal with the Indians in late July. Because a drafted player can’t be traded within a year of his signing, Pomeranz wasn’t allowed to join the Rockies organization until Aug. 17.
Instead, he threw off a mound in Arizona to keep his arm sharp. He made his first start for Double-A Tulsa on Aug. 17, throwing seven scoreless innings.
A few days later, he underwent an appendectomy that slowed his promotion to the big leagues.
Upon his return last week, Pomeranz threw three scoreless innings for Tulsa before having his contract selected by the Rockies on Sunday.
Although Pomeranz wasn’t overpowering, he kept the Reds off balance with an effective changeup and a 91 mph fastball.
And when Pomeranz found himself in trouble early, he wiggled free by getting the Reds to ground into double plays in the second and third innings.
This was precisely the type of performance Rockies manager Jim Tracy envisioned from Pomeranz. Tracy caught a glimpse of him during spring training and was instantly intrigued, even asking around about the pitcher who was hitting 95 mph with his fastball.
“That’s how much he jumped out at me,” Tracy said.
After the game, Tracy said he was impressed with Pomeranz’s ability to stay within the moment and not get rattled.
“I see a very, very slow heartbeat,” Tracy said. “It’s very encouraging to see.”
Edinson Volquez (5-5) was effective in his first start since July 5, not allowing a hit until Wigginton’s homer to left in the fourth. Volquez later gave up an RBI single to Jordan Pacheco.
Volquez, Cincinnati’s opening-day starter, has bounced around between the Reds and Triple-A Louisville this season in an effort to find his command.
The right-hander had difficulty locating his breaking ball against Colorado as he walked four and struck out three.
“Today, I was trying to throw my curve and it didn’t break like I wanted,” Volquez said.
Still, it was a step in the right direction.
“He had good tempo,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He threw the ball better.”
Chris Valaika had both hits off Pomeranz before leaving in the fifth with a strained right knee. Chris Heisey had a triple in the seventh and Joey Votto homered in the ninth to provide the only other hits for the Reds as the team wrapped up a 4-5 road trip.
The banged-up Rockies went with a patchwork lineup, with All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (sore hip), first baseman Todd Helton (stiff back) and second baseman Mark Ellis (neck) all sitting out.
Just before the game, Carlos Gonzalez also was scratched with lower back stiffness and Wigginton went in to play left field.
With an off day Monday, Tracy said he’s hopeful Tulowitzki will be back in the lineup Tuesday in Milwaukee.
Starting in place of Tulowitzki was Thomas Field, who made his major league debut after having his contract selected from Tulsa. He drew a walk his first time up but finished without a hit.
But this will be a day remembered for the debut of Pomeranz.
“He’s really good,” Gonzalez said. “He’s our future.”