Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne considers former major league pitcher and countryman Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez his idol.
With his array of throwing angles and penchant for attacking the strike zone, no one would be wrong in comparing the two.After announcing his arrival with a dominant debut against San Francisco in late June, the San Diego Padres' 27-year-old rookie seeks another solid outing against the Giants on Saturday in the second of a three-game set.Despaigne (2-0, 0.66 ERA) signed a minor league deal in May and quickly climbed the ladder before being called up June 23. The crafty right-hander had his whole repertoire working that day in a 6-0 win over the Giants, tossing seven innings of four-hit ball."It's unique to have so many pitches and arm angles," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley told MLB's official website. "Right away, I could see it was going to be difficult for the opposition to study 12 different types of pitches.""There's basically two variations of each pitch from different arm angles -- a high, three-quarter, sidearm and a low three-quarter. He has a good feel for all of them."Despaigne wasn't as crisp in his second start but he was nearly as stingy over 6 2/3 innings to lead the Padres to a 2-1 win over Arizona on Sunday. He allowed five hits and a run with four walks and two strikeouts.The victory kicked off a season-best five-game winning streak for the Padres (39-47), who haven't taken six straight since a seven-game run from June 10-17 last year.San Diego's pitching has been electrifying during the streak, giving up three runs and 28 hits over 45 innings with 40 strikeouts and only one homer allowed. The starters have been the key with a 0.53 ERA over 33 2/3 of those innings.Even struggling left-hander Eric Stults got in on the action in Friday's series opener, following Tyson Ross' three-hit shutout of Cincinnati on Wednesday with seven strong innings in a 2-0 victory. He hadn't won since beating Miami on May 10."There is no doubt that there is momentum in pitching," said Padres manager Bud Black. "That puts pressure on the next guy."San Francisco (47-39), which was shut out for the third time in five games, continued its downward spiral with its 18th loss in 23 games. The Giants have gone an MLB-worst 5-18 since June 9 to fall out of first place in the NL West.Opposing Despaigne will be veteran Tim Hudson (7-5, 2.59 ERA), whose return to the Bay Area this year got off to a fantastic start but has hit a wall in recent weeks.Hudson, who turns 39 on July 14, opened the season with a 7-2 record and 1.81 ERA, but he's now on the verge of matching a career worst for losses in consecutive starts.The right-hander has dropped three straight outings -- something that hasn't happened to him since September 2010 with Atlanta -- and would match the poorest stretch of his career with a defeat Saturday.A 212-game winner during his outstanding 16-year career, Hudson has lost four starts in a row only twice before: May 4-19, 2002, and June 16-July 1, 2010.Hudson, though, can't be faulted for his most recent loss. He tossed eight strong innings and gave up two runs against Cincinnati on Sunday, but Homer Bailey pitched a three-hitter to lead the Reds to a 4-0 victory."My delivery felt a lot better and my timing was good," Hudson said. "They had one or two opportunities to score and they took advantage."
Odrisamer Despaigne is throwing his cutter 25.5 percent of the time, which would rank sixth-highest among qualifying starters in MLB. The Giants are hitting .194 against cutters this season, which ranks 27th in MLB.