Pomeranz's performance is no fluke

Left-hander has allowed no earned runs in 5 of 11 starts

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Shortly after Drew Pomeranz completed seven innings of two-hit shutout work Friday night at Petco Park, Padres manager Andy Green was essentially asked if he's been surprised by the left-hander's performance.

"This is not an anomaly," said Green. "He's had a few outings like this. His cutter was as good as I've seen it tonight. The anomaly was in his last outing."

The 27-year-old Pomeranz has emerged as the Padres' No. 1 starter this season -- and the competition isn't really close. But that really shouldn't be a surprise to the experts.

Pomeranz was the fifth player selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 2010 draft. He first reached the Major Leagues in 2011 at the age of 22. Yes, he struggled after that. But the 6-foot-6 athlete has always had potential.

It's just that it has surfaced with the Padres since they acquired him from Oakland last Dec. 2 with Oakland that sent first baseman Yonder Alonso to the A's.

And now he's added a third weapon to the combination of a solid fastball and one of the best curves in the Major Leagues. He used a cut fastball Friday night to close out several of his eight strikeouts.

After 11 starts, Pomeranz is 5-5 with a 2.22 earned run average. Friday marked the second time in three starts that he allowed two hits while throwing seven scoreless innings. In between was the lone real blip in his resume this season. Arizona got to him for six runs on five hits and four walks over five innings.

But that start is the anomaly.

Pomeranz has allowed 37 hits and 31 walks in 65 innings with 77 strikeouts. His ERA is the fifth-best mark in the National League. His opponents batting average of .170 is the third-best mark. He ranks sixth in strikeouts per nine innings.

Is he the finished product?

No.

Seven innings matched the longest outing of his career. He's working on cutting down his walks and pitch efficiency to be able to work deeper into games.

But he is the real thing. Just ask Colorado manager Walt Weiss. Pomeranz reached the Major League with the Rockies in 2011.

"Drew is having a really good year," said Weiss after the Padres' 4-0 win Friday night. "He's very different than what we remember when he was with us (2011-13). He has a lot of confidence in the cutter now and commands the ball well. His velocity is maybe not the same, but he's a better pitcher than he was back then."

Notes from the scorebook

• Right fielder Matt Kemp's 458-foot homer to left in the first inning Friday night matched the longest recorded homer in the 13-season history of Petco Park. Adrian Gonzalez hit a 458-homer to right-center while with the Padres on April 26, 2009. Kemp's homer, his 14th of the season, reached the back row in the second deck of seats in left. Kemp is 6-for-15 in the first three days of June with a homer and five RBIs after hitting .186 in May for a second straight season.

• Center fielder Jon Jay opened Friday night's game with a single to score in front of Kemp's homer. He was 1-for-4 Friday and is 10-for-16 over the last three games and has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games. During that run, he is hitting .413 (19-for-46) with six doubles and nine runs scored.

• Before Friday's game Padres manager Andy Green said there would be new assignments -- for at least the near future -- in the Padres' bullpen following Thursday night's meltdown against the Mariners. One role change became apparent Friday night when Ryan Buchter worked the eighth -- and retired all three Rockies he faced -- rather than right-hander Brandon Maurer.

• Left fielder Melvin Upton Jr.'s straight steal of home in the fourth was his 12th stolen base of the season. He ranks fourth in the National League in steals and fifth in the Major Leagues. The last time a Padre recorded a straight steal of home was July 14, 2012, by Everth Cabrera at Dodger Stadium.