To hear San Diego Padres manager Bud Black tell it, rookie pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne showed enough during a brief stint in the minors to prove he knows what he is doing on the pitcher's mound.
Seeing it up close was another matter entirely.
"That was a hell of an outing," Black said after Despaigne, in his major league debut, combined with two relievers to blank the San Francisco Giants 6-0 Monday at AT&T Park. "Are you kidding me? That was great."
Despaigne, a right-hander who pitched the previous eight seasons in his native Cuba, tossed seven scoreless innings against the Giants. He buzzed through the first 10 hitters without surrendering a baserunner, allowed only two runners to reach second base and became just the fourth Padres pitcher to fire seven or more shutout innings in his debut.
"A dream come true," Despaigne said through an interpreter. "I just tried to keep the ball down, especially with that lineup they have over there. I tried to keep them off balance and make my pitches."
He did so with superb effectiveness. Despaigne required only 86 pitches to negotiate his seven innings. He surrendered four hits and no walks, and he struck out one. He did not allow a runner until Giants right fielder Hunter Pence dumped a double into right-center with one out in the fourth inning.
Despaigne threw pitches from angles that were subtly different, mixed in a fastball that reached 93 mph with breaking stuff as low as the high 60s, and kept the Giants off balance from the beginning. It was a performance not entirely in keeping with his seven minor league outings that preceded it, efforts that produced a 1-3 mark and 6.03 ERA combined between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso.
"I know his minor league numbers don't show it, but he's shown enough flashes that we knew what he could do," Black said.
First baseman Tommy Medica contributed a two-run double in a three-run fourth that gave Despaigne all the runs he would need. Shortstop Everth Cabrera's RBI single and right fielder Seth Smith's RBI double were the big hits in a three-run San Diego eighth.
All of San Diego's damage came against Giants starter Matt Cain, who is winless in his past five starts. Cain (1-6) was charged with all six of the Padres' runs. He has allowed 17 runs in his past 17 1/3 innings.
"The biggest thing," Cain said, "is I haven't done the job I've needed to do, which is go give our club a chance to win."
Cain pitched into the eighth inning for the first time since earning his only victory in 11 starts this season, May 15 against the Miami Marlins. His seven strikeouts against San Diego were his most since that outing.
After facing the minimum 10 hitters through 3 1/3 innings, Cain surrendered an infield hit to Cabrera and a single to Smith. After Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval robbed left fielder Carlos Quentin of extra bases with a leaping grab, San Diego catcher Yamani Grandal smoked one high off the wall in right-center.
Umpires ruled the drive a home run but then reversed the call after Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged it. Umps put Smith and Grandal back on second and third, respectively, leading to Black's ejection when he argued the ruling.
"I thought Smitty deserved to score," Black said. "That ball was hit 450 feet. There was no doubt to me that he was going to score."
Medica then lined one off the top of Sandoval's glove and down the left field line for a two-run double that put Cain in a hole from which his team couldn't escape.
Cain, a three-time All-Star, has pitched at least six innings and allowed three earned runs or fewer only once in his past eight starts.
"I can tell you, he's probably getting real tired of it," Bochy said.
Giants hitters probably aren't dying to see Depaigne anytime soon, either. The 27-year-old joined Ricky Bones (1991), Eric Nolte (1987) and Jimmy Jones (1986) as the only San Diego pitchers to toss at least seven scoreless innings in their debut.
Grandal, also a native of Cuba, said Despaigne shook off his pitch call only a couple of times during seven innings, a key given his frequency for doing just that thing in the minors. Such a habit slowed Despaigne in the past and contributed to trouble.
Not so against San Francisco.
"Every time he shook me off, he threw a strike," Grandal said. "He kept the tempo and the pace of the game right where we wanted it."
Despaigne and Grandal became the first Cuban battery to start a game since Camilo Pascual pitched to Paul Casanova for the Washington Senators on June 13, 1969.
NOTES: Padres RHP Andrew Cashner was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of right shoulder soreness. Manager Bud Black said the team wants to see if the natural soreness Cashner is experiencing "alleviates itself." ... RHP Odrisamer Despaigne, promoted from Triple-A El Paso, became the 10th Padres pitcher to start a game this season. ... The Giants placed 2B Ehire Adrianza on the 15-day DL due to a strained right hamstring, and they recalled OF Juan Perez from Triple-A Fresno. Joe Panik, called up Saturday, figures to receive the bulk of playing time at second base. ... Giants CF Angel Pagan (back) missed his seventh consecutive game but took batting practice and fielded fly balls before the game. ... San Diego 2B Chase Headley (back) missed his fourth game in a row, but he may return Tuesday, Black said. ... The Giants honored late San Diego Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn in a pregame ceremony.