CINCINNATI -- When Padres left-hander Drew Pomeranz stepped into the batter's box in the fifth inning of a 3-0 win at Great American Ball Park against Reds starter Brandon Finnegan, he had a plan.After swinging wildly during a three-pitch strikeout in his first at-bat in the third, Pomeranz didn't want
CINCINNATI -- When Padres left-hander Drew Pomeranz stepped into the batter's box in the fifth inning of a 3-0 win at Great American Ball Park against Reds starter Brandon Finnegan, he had a plan.
After swinging wildly during a three-pitch strikeout in his first at-bat in the third, Pomeranz didn't want to make a fool of himself again. So he was just going to watch.
"I told Brett Wallace, because I'd struck out the first time, I said I'm just going to go up there and see if he can throw me three strikes," Pomeranz said.
Pomeranz did just that, leaving the bat on his shoulders for the first two pitches, lookng at a ball, then a strike. But the third pitch caught Pomeranz's eye, and he couldn't resist. He flicked the bat head at the ball, caught it with the barrel, and 388 feet later, Pomeranz had his second career home run.
"I kind of surprised myself," Pomeranz said. "I thought initially that I'd popped out to right, but then I realized that I caught it on the barrel, so I knew it was going to keep going a little bit. Especially this [park], the ball flies here."
It's no surprise that Pomeranz couldn't stick to his no-swing approach. A self-described "5 o'clock hero" for his batting practice prowess, he's known to take balls out of the park from time to time. His problem in games, though, is he's not a very patient hitter.
"He takes a really impressive batting practice," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He's got tons of pop. It's just a matter of staying confined to the strike zone. He likes to swing liberally."
The home run was just one highlight in a career-type day for the 27-year-old. Not only did he hit the homer, his RBI single in the seventh gave him his first career multi-hit game and made him responsible for two of the three runs scored in the Padres' win. The southpaw finished 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs.
On the mound, Pomeranz went seven shutout innings, striking out six and allowing three hits. He retired the last 11 Reds he faced.
"He was in a really good rhythm," Green said. "You could tell he had a feel for his spin at that point in time. That's when he really takes off to another level. That curveball, was just like, could drop it in wherever he wanted, and he could bury it if he wanted to. When he can control it like that, he's incredibly tough to hit off."
The outing further improves what's been a breakout season for Pomeranz. He's now got a career-best 2.76 ERA on the season with 102 strikeouts over 88 innings. He had, however, been scuffling a little, posting a 5.46 ERA over his last five starts before his outing vs. the Reds, which he felt was a step in the right direction.
"I've been overthrowing a little bit, especially this month," Pomeranz said. "You know, I was feeling good, arm was feeling great and just was doing a little too much out there, throwing a little too hard, I think, for me. I just tried to settle down and be smooth out there and just make pitches. … I wasn't relying on one pitch today, I wasn't just relying on my curveball. I was relying on three, four pitches."
Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.