OAKLAND, Calif. — Boston Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz will face the Oakland Athletics for the first time in his career on Saturday afternoon, but he should feel right at home pitching at Oakland Coliseum.
Pomeranz went 7-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 35 games, including nine starts, at the Coliseum for the A’s in 2014 and 2015. His .778 winning percentage at the Coliseum is his highest at any major league stadium in which he has more than one decision.
“I’ve bounced around a little bit, but I liked pitching here when I was here,” Pomeranz said before Oakland’s 3-2, 10-inning victory over Boston on Friday night. “It will be kind of cool to get back out there, on the other side this time.
“It’s a very pitcher-friendly place. Generally when the weather’s colder, the ball doesn’t fly as much. (Thursday night) it was flying pretty good because it was so warm. That’s pretty normal here. A lot of foul territory. It’s cool. It’s great for us, especially when I came here from Colorado, it was like I was playing in an open field somewhere.”
The Rockies traded Pomeranz to Oakland on Dec. 10, 2013, for left-hander Brett Anderson.
“I pretty much kind of started the reinvention of myself here,” Pomeranz said. “That first year in ’14, being in the bullpen, had some time to just get back to the basics. I had struggled for a couple years in Colorado and kind of lost myself a little bit. But they gave me free rein to go out there and do your thing.
“They understand that everyone’s here for a reason because we’re all good and we all know what makes us good. It’s just that sometimes it’s about letting people find themselves. They gave me a chance to do that here.”
Oakland traded Pomeranz, along with Jose Torres, to San Diego on Dec. 2, 2015, for first baseman Yonder Alonso and reliever Marc Rzepczyski. San Diego traded him to Boston on July 14, 2016, for minor-league right-hander Anderson Espinoza.
Pomeranz makes his offseason home in San Francisco, some 30 miles west of Orinda, where his wife, Carolyn, grew up. They met while Pomeranz played for Oakland and were married in November. He said he still keeps in touch with some of his old A’s teammates during the offseason, although Oakland’s roster has largely turned over since 2015.
Pomeranz is 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA this season and left his last start against Tampa Bay on Sunday after three innings with tightness in his left triceps. Pomeranz said he had a “mechanical” flaw in his delivery but has fixed that problem and feels good to go.
The A’s will counter with left-hander Sean Manaea, who will face the Red Sox for the second time in his career.
“I don’t remember last year what I did against Boston,” Manaea said. “I blacked out.”
Manaea gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings in a 13-5 loss at Fenway Park on May 10, 2016. Boston swept that three-game series, outscoring Oakland 40-15. After that nightmare start, he decided to go from having long locks to short hair.
“That wasn’t a really fun series for us,” Manaea said. “It was the worst start I’ve had pretty much ever. It was really bad, and that’s kind of what made me cut my hair too, is just having a few bad starts. I just needed a change. That was just the tipping point.
“That’s why baseball’s fun. You get to face these guys again and kind of redeem yourself, or at least try to. I’m not worried about what happened in the past. It is what it is. It’s helped me become who I am today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and hoping everything’s good and I can just walk away knowing I did something good.”
Manaea is 1-3 with a 5.52 ERA. In his last start, he came off the disabled list for a strained left shoulder and gave up four runs in five innings of a 6-5 loss to Seattle. He walked five and gave up all four runs in the first two innings but retired the final 10 batters he faced.
“It started to snowball kind of out of control,” Manaea said. “In between innings I just told myself, ‘You can either go one of two ways, you can just let it happen and chalk it up to a really bad start or you can suck it up and try to salvage what you can out of it with the rest of your day.'”
Manaea chose option No. 2.
“I’ve just got to keep that mindset going and just start getting on a roll and start having some quality starts.”