Cards' Daniel Poncedeleon carries no-hitter through 7 IPs in MLB debut

St. Louis Cardinals starter Daniel Poncedeleon made a sensational debut 14 months after suffering a severe head injury, throwing no-hit ball for seven innings Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds.

Poncedeleon threw 116 pitches while striking out three and walking three but was taken out of the game after the seventh.

Reds pinch hitter Phillip Ervin singled off St. Louis reliever Jordan Hicks with one out in the eighth inning, ending the no-hitter. Eugenio Suarez then led a two-out Reds rally in the ninth to beat the Cardinals 2-1, giving Poncedeleon a no-decision.

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Poncedeleon is the fifth pitcher to carry a no-hit bid through seven innings in his MLB debut in the expansion era (since 1961).

Poncedeleon said he understood the decision to pull him amid a no-hitter.

"First of all, I'm a liability at the plate," he said. "Struck out twice looking. One-run game, needed a big at-bat. One hundred percent understand. Plus I was 100-something pitches in."

Given his high pitch count, Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt had no thought about leaving him in.

"We weren't in a situation where he would have been able to finish that game with a no-hitter,'' Shildt said. "It was his time.''

Poncedeleon, 26, was making his first start in the majors more than a year after he took a line drive to his right temple in a Triple-A game. He underwent brain surgery following the May 2017 incident, but by February, he had progressed so much that St. Louis invited him to its big league spring training camp.

"I don't know if words can describe that. Talk about magical," Shildt said. "What he dealt with, what he has 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 is stories like that."

Poncedeleon said he was "most nervous at the plate when I was trying to hit" and wasn't concentrated on throwing a no-hitter.

"I just wanted to win," he said. "To be honest, just pissed I couldn't put the ball in play."

For Triple-A Memphis this season, Poncedeleon has a 9-3 record, a 2.15 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 92 innings. He won his past four starts, including a one-hitter in his previous appearance on July 15, the first complete-game shutout of his five minor league seasons.

He was called up last month, but the Cardinals sent him back down after three games in which he didn't see action.

Asked if Poncedeleon's effort Monday earned him another start, Shildt replied, "To be determined. Lots of moving parts independent of Ponce. Clearly proved he deserves the opportunity to start here."

The Cardinals sent Poncedeleon back to Triple-A on Tuesday to recall left-hander Austin Gomber, who is starting Tuesday night's game against the Reds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.