(BaseballStL) -- Lance Lynn needed all five runs scored in the top of the first inning to keep the St. Louis Cardinals ahead of the Miami Marlins after the opening frame on Saturday.
The Cardinals sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning against Tom Koehler, who needed 36 pitches to get the first three outs of the game, and left with five runs on four hits, one walk and one hit batter.
Jon Jay got the inning started by drawing a walk after falling into a 0-2 count. Matt Holliday reached on a one-out single followed by Allen Craig being hit by a pitch. Yadier Molina continued his tremendous season with a bases loaded two-RBI single. David Freese then singled with runners on first and second base to score another run. Daniel Descalso doubled Molina to score the fourth run of the inning before Freese scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Pete Kozma. Freese avoided the tag at home plate for a 5-0 lead.
Koehler escaped the inning by getting the next two batters, Lynn and Jay, out.
The 5-0 lead was quickly trimmed by the Marlins off Lynn, who threw 28 pitches in the first inning.
Juan Pierre led off with a triple to right field and scored on an infield single by Ed Lucas in the next at-bat. Lynn got Giancarlo Stanton to fly out and struck out Marcell Ozuna before he issued a walk to Derek Dietrich. Adeiny Hechavarria hit an RBI single in the next at-bat followed by Greg Dobbs reaching base after being hit by a pitch. Rob Brantly hit a two-out and two-RBI single to pull within one run of the lead in the first inning.
When it was all said and done, the Cardinals led the Marlins 5-4 after one full inning of play.
Beltran gave the Cardinals more breathing room with a solo home run off the right field foul pole for a two-run lead in the second inning. Stanton answered back with a two-run home run in the Marlins’ half to tie the game 6-6 after two full innings of play.
It didn’t take long for the Cardinals to score again. This time Freese blasted an opposite field solo home run for a 7-6 lead in the third inning.
The score remained unchanged until the fifth inning when manager Mike Matheny had a tough decision to make. There were two outs and the bases loaded, and due up was Lynn, who had thrown 89 pitches already.
Rather than use a pinch hitter in the one-run game, Matheny stuck with Lynn, who sent a two-run single to right field to help pad their lead to 9-6.
The Marlins would get a run back in the bottom half of the fifth inning after Lynn allowed the first two batters to reach base. Brantly scored a runner on a sacrifice fly for the first out of the inning and to change the score to 9-7.
Lynn was yanked from the game after recording the final out in the fifth inning. He allowed seven runs (all earned) on nine hits and three walks over five innings of work. The Cardinals added three more runs in the eighth inning and one in the ninth for a 13-7 win.
Thankfully for the Cardinals, Lynn received the most run support (6.1 runs per game) of any St. Louis starting pitcher this year. Saturday’s totals will only add to that, but is there a reason to worry?
It’s hard to argue that there isn’t a reason to worry when a pitcher allows a lineup that featured only two batters with averages of .260 or better to score seven runs (all earned) over five innings pitched.
This is also the second shaky start for Lynn, who allowed four earned runs on five hits and three walks over six innings in an 11-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in his last start.
Another major reason to worry may not have to do with Lynn exactly. Why did Matheny keep Lynn in to hit for himself with the bases loaded and two outs in a one-run game? It was the fifth inning and he had struggled throughout the game. The decision paid off for Lynn, Matheny and the Cardinals after he poked a two-RBI single. It still makes it a questionable move no matter the outcome.
The television broadcast implied that getting Lynn the chance for the win may have contributed to the decision. If so, that’s not a good enough. When does a win for your starter mean more than a win for your team? Hopefully that is not the reason.
The decision to keep Lynn in the game despite his struggles doesn’t surprise me. Matheny has often credited Lynn for the way he battles through poor innings and starts to give his team the chance to win. Lynn’s tough mentality is one reason why Matheny trusts him to get the job done.