(BaseballStL) — Following a 12-inning affair in the series opener with the Yanks, the Cardinals could not afford to go to the pen early. Lance Lynn, often a victim of one-inning derailments that warrant phone calls to right field, answered the bell like he had no other time in his career, going the distance against New York.
Read about how Kolten Wong helped Lynn get to his first complete game.
“You could tell how hard and long he’d been trying to make this happen. You could see the reaction of his teammates,” Mike Matheny said. “It’s been a big deal for him and something he talked a lot about. We’re all happy for him.”
In his first career complete game and shutout, Lynn worked 126 pitches in, out, up and down to hold the Yankees to five hits en route to a shutout 6-0 victory, his sixth win of the season.
“It’s just another game,” he joked at his locker afterward. “To do it against the Yankees is exciting. Especially if it’s your first one as a professional.”
An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first inning indicated the mercurial righty was on track early. All three outs were weak grounders, even Derek Jeter’s- who Lynn had to wait out applause for before toeing the rubber.
From there he worked around a baserunner in four of the next six innings without a run.
The offense paid their starter back in the bottom half of the third, exploiting two Yankee errors for four runs on the back of a three-hit inning. The groundwork was in place for a win, and Lynn just needed to dodge the big inning to hold it.
In the fourth, it was knocking at the door when Jeter walked to begin the frame. Kolten Wong, who made a series of tremendous defensive plays behind the starter, notched an out when he outran Jacoby Ellsbury to first on a soft grounder. Lynn then walked Brian McCann to set up a possible double play, and the goose egg hung in the balance.
“It was a big play. The five hole up and it sets up a double play ball after you walk two guys to put them at first and second,” he said. “If you get one out there you’re at first and third with Soriano up. You know what he’s capable of and he’s had good at bats on me in the past, so I definitely didn’t want to face him with runners on or in scoring position.”
Lynn needed one pitch to hold the lead and dodge the big blow, and he made it. A ground ball to Wong followed and the smooth-handed rookie started a 4-6-3 double play to shut the door on the Yankee threat.
He followed with an eight-pitch fifth, and from there it was a rather one-sided affair.
New York would get two men on in the sixth and the eighth, but the 27-year-old would not yield to the pressure. He deftly worked around trouble, containing hits and letting his defense do the work.
Sitting at 116 pitches, Lynn was three outs away from a career milestone. With a six run lead, if the Indianapolis native was going to get his first complete game, he would have to negotiate.
“He made a strong plea and we had a deal: somebody gets on base, he’s done,” Matheny said.
“I told him I’ve got nine more pitches. If I throw more than nine you can come get me,” Lynn said.
He got one mulligan, throwing 10 in the final inning to close out the game after falling behind 3-1 to Brian Roberts.
Matheny said afterward he knew Roberts was Lynn’s last man no matter what, and he was hoping his word wouldn’t be tested one out away from a career high point for his pitcher.
“When these guys do all the extra work, they’re pushing for times like this,” He said. “They have some individual goals and that’s one of the goals he had and I’m happy to watch him do it.”
With one goal in the books, Lynn can now set his eyes on his next target. As the lights went out at Busch, he smiled and revealed his new goal. “Maybe do it again. Go from there.”