Drew Pomeranz said he didn't have his best stuff on Saturday. But he looked pretty impressive in recording his first professional victory.
Pomeranz struck out eight over five innings as the Kinston Indians blanked the Potomac Nationals, 3-0, in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
"I'm happy I found away to win without my best stuff," he said. "The team put runs up and I just did what I was supposed to do -- I put our team in a position to win. I only got through five, but I did what I could with what I had, so I'm pretty happy with it."
The fifth overall pick in last year's Draft, Pomeranz (1-0) has given up only six runs -- four earned -- over 28 1/3 innings for a 1.27 ERA that ranks third in the Carolina League. He tops the Class A Advanced circuit with 42 strikeouts.
"People say it's a little different pitching in pro ball, but for me I try to keep it simple and try to make one pitch at a time," said Pomeranz, who limited the P-Nats to three singles and three walks. "I try to focus on small things instead of the whole season. If you make every pitch, then no matter where you are, you're going to be happy with it. You're going to come out where you want to be if you focus on every pitch and don't worry about other things."
On Saturday afternoon, the 22-year-old left-hander worked around a two-out walk and a single in the first inning and two walks and a passed ball in the second. He also pitched out of trouble again in the third.
After striking out the first two batters, Pomeranz
walked Steven Souza. He nearly had Souza picked off, but a throwing error by first baseman Chase Burnette was wild, enabling Souza to reach third. Unfazed, Pomeranz caught Destin Hood looking at a third strike to end the inning.
After a 1-2-3 fourth, the Ole Miss product gave up a bunt single leading off the fifth to Eury Perez, who stole second. But Pomeranz struck out Jeff Kobernus and Francisco Soriano before retiring Justin Bloxom on a line drive to shortstop.
"I was happy that I was able to make pitches when I needed to," Pomeranz said. "When the team needed me to bear down and keep it in the infield or get a strikeout, I did."
The eight strikeouts were one short of the career high he established in his pro debut on April 8 against Winston-Salem.
Although he has enjoyed immediate success, Pomeranz insisted that he still has things to work on. His focus now is developing a consistent changeup to complement his fastball and curveball.
"It's coming along nicely," he said. "At times, it cuts on me a little bit. Today, it cut one time and led to a hit, but other than that I'm pretty happy with it."
Six starts into his pro career, Pomeranz said every game has provided him with a new opportunity to grow as a pitcher.
"Every outing is a learning experience," he added. "What you do or don't do, you're going to get better because of it. You take something with you from each outing. No matter how good you pitch, there's going to be something you could've done better."
Nationals prospect Cameron Selik (0-1) went the distance in his Carolina League debut. He was charged with two earned runs on four hits, including a pair of solo homers, walking two and striking out three. The 2010 22nd-round pick was 3-0 with a 0.31 ERA in five starts in the Class A South Atlantic League.