(BaseballStL) -- An inch here or an inch there might have been all Tyler Lyons needed to avoid a lopsided second inning at the hands of the division rival Reds on Monday.
The defense behind the rookie starter came up just short when those inches were needed the most.
The Reds took a four-run lead in the second inning after an error by shortstop Daniel Descalso and a missed diving catch attempt from center fielder Jon Jay went for naught as Lyons was left to control the bleeding.
Descalso’s error, his team-leading 13th, kickstarted the inning with a runner on first base and one out. The sharply hit ball by Devin Mesoraco scooted under the glove of Descalso as he was leaning towards second base to start a potential 6-4-3 double play. It instead resulted in runners on the corners and one out. Zack Cozart made it a costly error in the next at-bat by hitting a triple to score both runners.
“I haven’t seen it,” manager Mike Matheny said of the error. “The ball is hit hard, I’m sure he’d say he could make it because he believes he can make any play and I agree. I think he can, too.”
Todd Frazier would later add a two-out triple as it sailed just past the outreached glove of a diving Jay in center field.
“He was on the ropes,” Matheny said. “He had trouble with getting too much of the plate and a good lineup they’re going to make you pay. Especially getting yourself into hitter’s counts and then you got to find too much of the plate, they’re going to take big swings and that’s really what happened today.”
It was just another case of missing by inches for Lyons in the second inning.
It wasn’t the morale boost the rookie pitcher hoped for to work around the error. Making his first big league start since July 30, Lyons faced nine batters, threw 33 pitches, allowed three hits including two two-run triples, walked the opposing pitcher and hit a batter. That was all in the second inning.
“Overall, I think it was pretty good,” Lyons said. “Obviously the second inning didn’t go how I wanted it to and you have moments like that so it was about bouncing back and trying to keep the team in the game for as long as possible.”
As Carlos Martinez began to warm up in the second inning, Lyons sat down ten consecutive batters before he was pulled in favor of pinch-hitter Kolten Wong to leadoff the bottom of the fifth.
“I thought I did a little bit better job of that tonight,” Lyons said. “I just didn’t make pitches in the second inning there towards the end. I just left a couple of fastballs up and when I do that obviously you see what happens.”
His final line read: 5 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (85 pitches/52 strikes)
Martinez would eventually relieve Lyons in the sixth inning and allow one run in two innings of work. A seventh-inning grand slam from Allen Craig would give the Cardinals an 8-5 lead. The Cardinals held on to win 8-6 and give Martinez his first career victory.