Odrisamer Despaigne came within four outs of pitching the Padres’ first no-hitter yesterday. There were two outs in the eighth inning before any of the Mets got a hit off the Padres’ starter, who was making only his fifth career start.
That’s damn close. If he had gotten that last out in the eighth, he’d have come out to pitch the ninth inning with history on the line. Imagine what that would have felt like, for him, for the fans in the stands, for everyone watching at home. After the Padres batted in the eighth, the excitement, the tension would start to slowly build, with an explosion from the crowd as Despaigne emerged from the dugout to walk to the mound for the final time that day. Would he notice the cheers, or would he be so caught up in his own thoughts that he heard nothing?
It’s one of the most exciting things that can happen in baseball. One man, rising up to every challenge facing him for an entire game, and besting his competition in every challenge. And even though it didn’t happen on this day, Despaigne was incredibly impressive. Even when it appeared that he was starting to feel the pressure when he loaded the bases in the seventh on a hit batsman and two walks, he rose to the occasion and got the final out on a comebacker, which he nearly ran all the way to first base himself before flipping it gently to Jake Goebbert.
With Depaigne’s wide array of pitches and his willingness to use them on any count, yesterday was probably not the only time he’ll flirt with a no-no in his career. And next time, he’ll have this experience under his belt. Let’s hope he stays in a Padres’ uniform long enough for that to happen. This man is going to be fun to watch.
While Despaigne didn’t quite make history yesterday, teammate Will Venable did. In the sixth inning after a leadoff single, Venable stole second base on a 1-1 pitch to Chris Denorfia. When umpire Tom Halliion called him safe, that was the 5,000th stolen base in Padres’ history.
Venable has the best stolen base percentage of any Padre with 100 or more steals, at 80.9%. His steal today moved him in 23rd place on the active SB percentage list, just ahead of Brett Gardner and Carlos Gonzalez.