(BaseballStL) — The big inning is the demon Lance Lynn just can’t seem to exorcise. In 2013, he had 12 games in which he gave up three runs or more in a single inning.
In 2014, it has now happened three times in six starts.
On mobile? Follow the action all season long from your phone with the BaseballStL App.
The Reds scored three runs in the first inning in both match ups with Lynn, though he outlasted the opposing offense to win both contests.
Tuesday, the Brewers erased a three-run lead in the fourth inning for his first no decision of the season.
Lynn looked strong through three innings, appearing to continue where he left off on April 14 against Milwaukee. He had allowed only two hits through three, and had struck out a trio of hitters.
Then, Scooter Gennett tapped a ball back at the mound and Lynn, finishing his motion, couldn’t get all of his glove on it. The ball went up the middle to a charging Mark Ellis who couldn’t come up with the all-or-nothing play.
It was an occurrence that last year would have irked Lynn, possibly rattling his composure. This year, the coaches feel he’s more centered.
“I think he’s found that pitcher he should be on the mound including his stuff,” Mike Matheny said before Lynn’s second start of the season. The Cardinal manager added the 26-year-old righty had taken the assignments from coaches in stride and was learning the lessons he needed to to get better.
Whatever the cause, Lynn’s fourth began to spiral.
He uncorked a wild pitch to Khris Davis, moving Gennett into scoring position at second. Davis would ground out, advancing the Brewers' second baseman to third.
Lyle Overbay swung at the first pitch for a single, scoring Gennett and breaking the Bewers’ 10.1 inning scoreless streak against Lynn.
Mark Reynolds pushed the count full, then fouled off three straight pitches before drawing a 10-pitch walk to make it first and second. The inning seemed to be coming down to inches, and Lynn wasn’t getting any of the ones he needed.
Jeff Bianchi grounded a ball to Jhonny Peralta, appearing to give Lynn the inning-ending double play. He would beat the throw from Mark Ellis to extend the inning; another inch the Cardinal starter needed but didn’t get.
With runners on the corners, an unofficial intentional walk was issued to Martin Maldonado. Four pitches around the plate, none caught the zone or Maldonado’s eye enough to steal a strike.
It was a bases-loaded chance for Milwaukee starter Kyle Lohse, and it began in his favor.
“You go 2-0 to the pitcher, that’s not a very good job,” Lynn said. His first two fastballs missed the zone, his third found it. Then three straight foul balls again.
Missed inch after missed inch, Lynn’s troublesome fourth grew tenser. Then, Lohse looped a ball into left to tie the game at 3-3.
“Until that inning I was right where I needed to be. I let them right back in the game right there,” Lynn said. “That’s something you can’t do.”
It was the first time he gave up three runs in an inning while holding a lead since August 20 last season against the Brewers. After the game, he was hard on himself.
“If you can’t put the pitcher away with two outs and the bases loaded with a two run lead, you deserve not to win the game.“
He would rebound with an eight-pitch fifth inning, getting three quick outs and exiting with five innings on 102 pitches.
Despite another multi-run inning marring an otherwise strong start, Matheny still feels Lynn is trending in the right direction.
“Everybody is capable of having them, we’ve seen Lance have them before, but we haven’t seen much of that this year and I think it’s something that he’s growing out of,” he said.
Lynn’s next start will be either against the Cubs if the Cardinals use the off day to skip the five spot in the rotation, or the Braves if a five-man schedule holds.