(BaseballStL) — Lance Lynn has carried an unpleasant calling card through most of 2013. No matter how dominant the 26-year-old appears, one toxic inning always seems to find him.
In what may prove to be a cathartic performance, the burly righty clawed his way through a dangerous fifth inning to escape a would-be disaster Sunday night.
Through four innings, Lynn appeared in complete control. He started 10 of the first 12 hitters with a strike, and allowed only a broken bat infield single to David Ortiz. A double play followed, and Lynn faced the minimum number of batters to start Game 4.
Friday night was a showcase for his fastball. Of the 50 pitches he threw in the first four innings, only four were breaking pitches- three curveballs and a slider.
“For me, I’m hoping it’d be like 50 out of 50,” Lynn said. “You come out of the bullpen and you see what’s working. I had life on the fastball tonight and we went with it.”
34 of those 50 throws to the plate were strikes.
Then came the fifth.
Ortiz struck again, doubling to right center. Jonny Gomes followed with a 10-pitch at bat ending in a walk. Then Xander Bogaerts walked on five pitches, and the air rushed out of Busch stadium faster than opening the hatch on a submarine.
The inning was here. Lynn's demon had found him once again, and this time it was in Game 4 of the World Series.
Stephen Drew would fly to right on the first pitch, scoring Ortiz. Everyone winced as the the score knotted up. History had shown this was only the beginning, and there was plenty of potential for more pain.
But Lynn would not yield. David Ross came to the plate and began in a nine-pitch at bat that went to a 3-2 count before the St. Louis hurler got the best of him. Lynn struck Ross out on a two-seam fastball, and 47,000 fans erupted in a combination of exuberance and hope.
“As a competitor, you want to have that opportunity to pitch yourself out of that inning,” Lynn said. “You do everything you can.”
Mike Carp entered the game to hit for Clay Buchholz, and Lynn was one out away from ending the threat.
Carp took the first pitch to Matt Adams, who stepped on the bag to end the inning.
“They didn’t take the lead there. Bases loaded, no outs and they get one, so that’s pretty huge,” he said.
Before entering the dugout, Lynn pumped his fist several times. It was a release months in the making. Finally, when it mattered most, he put a 1 on the board.
He would be pulled in the sixth inning after his 89th pitch. Despite getting the first two outs, Lynn couldn’t retire Dustin Pedroia. Mike Matheny left him on to pitch around Ortiz, then pulled him for Seth Maness.
Lynn left visibly upset, hoping he would get to pitch himself out of another tight spot. Despite the cheers that followed him, he felt he left business unfinished.
“I’m not happy coming out of a game ever. That’s just part of being a competitor. If you want out of the game, you shouldn’t be out there ever. That’s just my opinion,” he said. “It’s the World Series. If you don’t want to pitch in the World Series than you can go right home.”
Despite his frustration he strode to the dugout carrying three hits and five strikeouts with him. He had allowed only one run to score, though Maness would add two more to his tab when Gomes took a ball over the wall in left.
It may have been an unsatisfying final few steps, but at least this time his demons weren't along for the walk.