Despaigne makes himself at home in St. Louis
Despite struggling on the road, Padres starter retires 12 of first 13 batters in no-decision
ST. LOUIS -- For someone with such a dramatic disparity in his home-road splits, Odrisamer Despaigne found success Saturday seldom seen away from his home ballpark in San Diego.
No one will ever confuse San Diego for St. Louis, though you couldn't have told the difference by the way Despaigne pitched as he took a no-decision in the Padres' 2-1 loss to the Cardinals in front of a sold-out crowd of 44,690 at Busch Stadium.
Despaigne retired 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced and allowed one earned run in five innings before giving way to the bullpen during a taxing sixth inning, when the Cardinals pushed across their first run of the game.
Working fast and throwing a lot of strikes, Despaigne hardly looked like the pitcher who came into this game with a career 5.47 ERA away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park, where his ERA is 2.96.
"He had a great plan," said Padres interim manager Pat Murphy. "[Catcher Derek] Norris had a great game plan, and to me, he was the unsung hero. He called a good game, kept Despi going.
"Give credit to Despi, too. I think that he's feeding off the way the team is playing. I think he felt the expectation, and Derek took him through it."
Using the assortment of pitches that have made him successful at times during his short career (this was just his 29th career start) Despaigne was efficient and pounded the strike zone -- exhibiting the results of the staff, particularly pitching coach Darren Balsley, which has worked to help Despaigne get better with his fastball command.
Despaigne, who allowed four hits with one walk while striking out three, threw 90 pitches -- 60 of which were strikes.
"Darren and [bullpen coach] Willie [Blair] do a great job of helping him get better, and you add Norris to the equation and I can't say enough how he handled Despi today. He was a difference-maker," Murphy said.
Despaigne and the Padres led, 1-0, heading to the sixth inning, when he allowed a leadoff double to center fielder Tommy Pham -- the rookie's first Major League hit.
The next batter, Matt Carpenter, fell behind, 1-2, and then fouled off three pitches. He eventually got enough of a sinker on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, sending it into right field for an RBI single that tied the game.
"It was a situation where the hitter was trying to hit the ball to the right side, trying to move the runner over with no outs. I was just trying to make some pitches, trying to get some pitches down," Despaigne said.
"Sometimes you've got to give credit to the hitter. He fouled off a lot of pitches -- that's what a hitter's supposed to do, try to put the ball in play. Unfortunately, that pitch was a sinker away, it was a funny swing. There was nothing I could do."