Lance Lynn moved record to 3-0 with a seven-inning one-run performance as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 at PNC Park. Lynn was greeted by an Alex Presley inside-the-park home run to start off the game, but then settled down allowing only three hits the rest of the way.
The Cardinals got a scare just a couple pitches into the ballgame when Presley lifted a fly ball to dead center field. Skip Schumaker, fresh off the DL and playing in place of Jon Jay who was hurt banging into the center field wall just a day earlier, misjudged his proximity to the wall and barreled into it allowing Presley to circle the bases. Manager Mike Matheny and the training staff went out and removed Schumaker for precautionary measures.
Lynn was incredible from that point on. He only threw 88 pitches, 53 for strikes, and had a great rhythm throughout the game. He walked only one batter and struck out four. He lowered his ERA to 1.42 and became the second National League pitcher to reach 3 wins; the other is Roy Halladay.
While Lynn was dominating, the Pirates were done in by four errors. Of the four runs the Cardinals scored, only two were earned. The Redbirds got even in the second inning when Carlos Beltran reached on an error by Pirates starter Charlie Morton. Two batters later Yadier Molina doubled to bring in Beltran. The throw to the plate from Bucs’ shortstop Clint Barmes went about five feet allowing Molina to move to third, but Morton stranded him there.
Mitchell Boggs struck out two batters in the eighth and Jason Motte recorded his third save working around a walk in the ninth. The Cardinals won their tenth game overall and increased their lead in the NL Central to four games as the Milwaukee Brewers lost to the Rockies 4-3.
JAY AND SCHUMAKER OK
It looks as though Jay and Schumaker will be OK after slamming into center field fences on back-to-back days. Jay was diagnosed with a sprained shoulder according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. He should be fine after a few days rest and will likely not go on the disabled list. Schumaker hit the wall in the right oblique area which was strained in Spring Training and caused his DL stint. Schumaker feels he should be ready to play today if Matheny allows him to.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, Lynn has been exceptional for the Cardinals since being moved into the rotation. He has alleviated the need to entertain the market for a starting pitcher and has shown the Cardinals brass that they have a starting pitcher on their hands, not a reliever.
While it remains uncertain exactly how long Chris Carpenter will be out, if Lynn continues to perform well, it will be interesting to see what the Redbirds do once Carpenter is able to get back on the field. Having too many starting pitchers is never a dilemma, but assuming everyone else is healthy, I wouldn’t suspect the Cardinals go to a six-man rotation.
There will be many other factors to consider when and if the Cardinals have to decide on Lynn’s immediate fate. One thing is for certain, the Cardinals do not need to look far next year when writing up the rotation. Kyle Lohse is in his last season of a four-year deal and the team has an option on Westbrook for 2013 so the Redbirds will have at least one opening next year. Provided Lynn continues to perform well, he may be a part of the Cardinals rotation for years to come.