LOS ANGELES -- Almost a month removed from his magical major league debut, Daniel Poncedeleon will return to the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation, with an outing in his native Southern California.
The right-hander will face the Los Angeles Dodgers and will no doubt be brimming with confidence. His only other big league start came July 23 at Cincinnati, when the right-hander delivered seven no-hit innings before he was removed after throwing 116 pitches.
The Cardinals ultimately lost that game 2-1, but gained a winner in Poncedeleon, who was born in nearby Anaheim and went to high school in La Mirada. Moved to the Cardinals' bullpen after his inspiring debut, St. Louis has won every game Poncedelon has appeared in since, keeping the legend of the 26-year old alive and well.
Perhaps the most impressive part of his debut was that it came 14 months after undergoing emergency surgery to stop bleeding in his brain after he was hit by a line drive in a Triple-A game.
"I don't know if words can describe it," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said, according to mlb.com. "You talk about magical, with what he's dealt with, what he's come back from. Making his MLB debut, throwing seven innings without giving up a hit, that's what's magical about this game and special about this game."
Poncedeleon will pitch opposite Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is working on his own story of resilience. Injured often over the past four seasons, with a bevy of maladies, Ryu was out for another 3 1/2 months this year with a left groin strain.
He finally returned to the Dodgers' rotation Wednesday and gave up three hits over six scoreless innings in a Los Angeles victory that allowed the Dodgers to avoid a three-game sweep by the rival San Francisco Giants.
"I've said it before, that you win with starting pitching," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Our starters have been lights out, they really have. And to get (Ryu) back, the way he's throwing the baseball, that's a huge boost for our club."
In four career appearances against the Cardinals (three starts), Ryu has a solid 1.50 ERA over 24 innings.
Another huge boost for the Dodgers is the return of Kenley Jansen from an irregular heartbeat. The right-hander went on the disabled list Aug. 10 and was cleared to return Monday after going on blood thinning medication. But he ended up taking the loss Monday when he gave up two ninth-inning home runs to the Cardinals.
The Dodgers will need all the pitching they can get against a Cardinals' offense that has hit a home run in 13 consecutive games, the longest current active streak in baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies had the longest streak this year at 16 games.
The Cardinals are not only 22-11 under interim manager Mike Shildt, they are 15-4 in August, the best record in the National League over the month.
The Dodgers moved into a tie for first place with a victory Aug. 1, but are 8-10 in the month and have fallen to third place, 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks and two back of the Colorado Rockies.