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Hoyt Starts, Looks Like His Old Self

Times Staff Writer

Talk about following the game plan.

LaMarr Hoyt was supposed to throw between 50 and 60 pitches in his first start for the Padres Tuesday night. He threw 59.

He was supposed to pitch five innings. He pitched five.

Maybe he was supposed to be the winning pitcher, too, but Craig Lefferts got the win after Terry Kennedy’s three-run homer gave the Padres a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

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Hoyt certainly pitched well enough to win, but he left down 2-0 after five innings. He had allowed two runs (one earned), two hits and one walk.

It was about all the Padres could ask of a pitcher making his third appearance.

“He threw the fastball where he wanted, in on the hitters,” pitching coach Galen Cisco said. “He threw his change and curve well. He was the old LaMarr Hoyt. It was kind of what we expected, wasn’t it?”

Going in, the Padres had high expectations because of Hoyt’s two relief appearances. He pitched two perfect innings in San Francisco nine days previous. And he struck out the only two batters he faced with two runners on base in Cincinnati six days ago.

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About the only thing the Padres didn’t expect was what happened in the first inning.

Hoyt, who averaged less than one walk per nine innings last year, actually walked leadoff batter Bob Dernier on four pitches. By the end of the inning, the Cubs had scored two runs as Hoyt had trouble getting ahead in the count.

“As good of a pitcher as he is, it was still new to him,” Manager Steve Boros said. “It was only his third ballgame. It’s a little different pitching here your third time out as opposed to (pitching in) Yuma. The hitters were a little sharper than you would normally see your third time out in spring training.”

According to the Cubs, Hoyt was not entirely on his game.

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“I’ve definitely seen him better,” Dernier said. “I wouldn’t say he was real sharp. You can’t expect him to be too sharp now.”

Said Keith Moreland: “I don’t think he threw the ball down in the strike zone like he usually does. When he’s throwing well, he keeps it down. I don’t think he’s sharp yet.”

After struggling through the Cub lineup the first time around, Hoyt was sharp the second time. Following pitcher Rick Sutcliffe’s leadoff double in the third, Hoyt retired the last nine batters he faced.

“He had good command of everything,” Kennedy said. “He got five or six changeups over and threw a lot of good breaking balls. In another couple of starts, his fastball will be better.”

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Boros said Hoyt may be allowed to throw 75 pitches in his next start Sunday afternoon against Pittsburgh.

Hoyt would not comment on his performance, saying he had “no idea” when he would start talking to the media again.


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