BOSTON — Red Sox manager John Farrell really couldn’t know what to expect from Drew Pomeranz when the left-hander came off the disabled list to pitch for Boston against the powerful Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.
After all, Pomeranz was shaky and hurt in spring training. He didn’t pitch very well after the Red Sox got him from San Diego late last season — amid the cloud of uncertainty surrounding a balky elbow that even left his new team with the option of reversing the trade that sent prime pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres.
He had also never won a game at Fenway Park before Tuesday. Ten appearances, six starts and nothing.
Guess what? Pomeranz delivered.
“Obviously, it’s awesome,” Pomeranz said after throwing six-plus strong innings in an 8-1 win over the Orioles. “I feel like I waited forever to go out there and have a good start. We played great as a team. (Christian Vazquez) did an incredible job behind the plate and at the plate. It was just a good win all-around.”
Vazquez, just 1-for-1 at the plate entering the game, matched his career high with four hits, drove in two runs and scored two, Dustin Pedroia drove in four runs, and Andrew Benintendi posted three hits and an RBI.
But the story was Pomeranz, who walked one, struck out seven and gave up four hits.
“Maybe a little bit more power than anticipated,” Farrell said of Pomeranz, who returned after dealing with a left forearm problem in Florida. “The action of his curveball was sharp and tight, did a great job in the second inning when they got second and third with just one out. Just the overall power was very encouraging to see tonight from Drew.”
Pablo Sandoval and Pedroia hit sacrifice flies to give the Red Sox (4-3) a 2-0 lead, and Pedroia singled home a pair off reliever Darren O’Day in a three-run seventh inning that saw the Orioles (4-2) commit two errors.
Vazquez capped his big night with a two-run triple in the eighth inning. Pedroia then brought the final run home with an infield hit as Vazquez scored his second run in a 15-hit attack.
Vazquez is 5-for-5 and has joined Sandy Leon for a 12-for-24 start by the Boston catchers.
“Our catchers are doing an outstanding job offensively and defensively,” Farrell said. “To see what Vazky’s doing here in the early going with just a couple of starts is a credit to him staying prepared and ready, particularly with the bat.”
Said Vazquez: “I’m trying to do, not to do too much. I hit it well and I’m seeing the ball well, so it felt good.”
Dylan Bundy (1-1) gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings, falling to 1-3 with a 6.86 ERA in his four career starts against Boston. O’Day relieved in the sloppy seventh and had his second straight rough outing, this one hurt when J.J. Hardy booted a routine double play ball.
“It’s just one of those nights where a lot of things fell their way,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Jonathan Schoop’s groundout made it 2-1 in the seventh before the Red Sox broke it open — after Bundy pitched well enough to win.
“I’m just happy to go six-plus innings and keep the game close,” Bundy said. “One swing of the bat and we can come back in that game. All I’m trying to do is keep our team in the game.”
Three relievers worked an inning apiece behind Pomeranz.
The Orioles had a threat in the second inning on a single by Welington Castillo and double by Trey Mancini with one out. But Pomeranz got out of it and retired 12 straight batters before Adam Jones doubled with one out in the sixth inning.
Pomeranz was clocked at 95 mph early.
“I was letting it fly out there a little bit. I was trying to be aggressive,” he said. “I finally was getting good extension, the ball was coming out, so it didn’t matter if I was throwing 90 (mph), like I was at the end, or 95. It was still coming out how it needed to come out. It really makes it easier on me when I get the timing right.”
NOTES: SS Xander Bogaerts and DH Hanley Ramirez (flu) both returned to the Red Sox lineup after missing the series in Detroit. … The Red Sox officially placed CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (knee) on the disabled list and sent INF Deven Marrero back to Triple-A Pawtucket. … Baltimore LF Trey Mancini worked pregame on taking balls off the Green Monster, saying he worked on the replica wall at Boston’s Fort Myers Jet Blue Park. … RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, 2-6 with a 6.92 ERA lifetime against Boston, goes for the Orioles in Wednesday’s series finale, facing RHP Steven Wright. Last year, Wright beat the Orioles both times he faced them. … Red Sox LHP Robbie Ross Jr., on the disabled list due to the flu, begins a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday.