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Arizona Cardinals Rookie Daniel Poncedeleon Returns From Brain Surgery, Throws 7 No-Hit Innings

By Fitzgerald Cecilio
on Jul 25, 2018 07:43 AM EDT
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St. Louis Cardinals rookie Daniel Poncedeleon tossed seven no-hit innings in his Major League debut on Monday, 14 months after he underwent emergency brain surgery.

Poncedeleon gave up three walks before he was pulled out for a pinch-hitter after 116 pitches. However, Poncedeleon's efforts went down the drain as the Cardinals lost to the Cincinnati Reds, 2-1, at the Great American Ball Park.

"I don't know if words can describe that," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt says of Poncedeleon's outing. "It's what's magical about this game and what we love about this game - stories like that."

Shildt was talking about the incident on May 9, 2017 when Poncedeleon was hit in the right temple by Victor Caratini comebacker while pitching for Class AAA Memphis Redbirds.

The doctors discovered that Poncedeleon suffered a fracture to his skull, aside from the bleeding on the brain, thus requiring him to undergo emergency brain surgery. The pitcher spent a week in intensive care after surgery, and was inactive for three months.

Incident Helped Poncedeleon Become Better Person

According to Poncedeleon, the incident helped him become a better person and a better Christian. He added that the 4-inch scar always remind of the fateful incident that changed everything for him.

"That allowed me to become a much better Christian that what I'd been," Poncedeleon says. "I think that played a huge part into this, because without that, I'm pretty weak. With God, I have a lot of faith and confidence."

This spring, Poncedeleon returned to competitive action, emerging as one of the top hurlers in the Pacific Coast League.

Shifting to a higher-spin four-seam fastball as his primary pitch, Poncedeleon tallied a 9-3 record and 2.15 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) for Memphis. At one point in his Triple A stint, Poncedeleon did not give up an earned run in 20 consecutive innings. He also completed a one-hit complete game in a career-high 111 pitches.

"The journey was not drawn up by me. Obviously, there is something greater drawing up this plan or this story," Poncedeleon said. "I just wanted to win, to be honest."

Poncedeleon Made History In MLB Debut

With his performance, the 26-year-old Poncedeleon became the fifth pitcher to carry a no-hitter through seven innings of his MLB debut since 1961, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

However, the Cardinals bullpen failed to finish what Poncedeleon started against the Reds.

Phillip Ervin broke up the no-hitter when he singled off Jordan Hicks in the eighth inning, before closer Bud Norris gave up two runs in the ninth for his third blown save of the year.

"This one stung. Some of them sting a little bit more," said Norris.

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