Left-hander strikes out six over five innings on Saturday
By David Cobb
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals starting pitcher Tyler Lyons was on a short leash at Busch Stadium on Saturday while filling in for Lance Lynn, and a rain delay made the decision to pull him after five innings easier for manager Mike Matheny.
With the leeway he was afforded, Lyons logged his best of four starts this season, though, and picked up his first win in more than two years as the Cardinals held on for a 3-2 win over the final four innings to clinch a series victory over the Royals.
"Tyler was good," Matheny said. "We've seen him come out and be very good in some of his starts, and usually it was just an inning that kind of blew up on him. He had a couple of opportunities for it to happen [Saturday]."
The only explosions the Royals could muster off Lyons were solo home runs by Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. Otherwise, the 27-year-old left-hander, who was originally slated to start for Triple-A Memphis on Friday, made key pitches with runners on base to subdue a lineup featuring seven players who are leading the American League in the All-Star voting at their positions.
Lyons allowed first-inning runs in two of his three May starts, and he looked vulnerable early on Saturday when the second batter of the game, Lorenzo Cain, doubled and immediately stole third. But Lyons struck out Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales to escape the jam.
Similarly, he endured a Gordon home run followed by his only walk and a Kolten Wong error in the second to limit the damage. Then, he retired nine of the next 10 he faced with the Perez homer the lone exception.
Lyons said he wanted to pitch the sixth after rain delayed the game for 24 minutes. Matheny said he wasn't sure if Lyons would have pitched another inning even without the rain delay.
"As the game kind of went along, I felt like I got in a little bit more of a groove," Lyons said. "The rain can mess with that a little bit, and for this outing it was the end of it. It is what it is, though."
A crew of five relievers handled the last four innings and preserved Lyons' first win since he defeated Kansas City in his second Major League appearance on May 28, 2013. Lyons had started 13 games and appeared in 11 more for the Cardinals without earning a win since then.
"I think he just went about making pitches," Matheny said. "I don't think he was overthinking things here today. I think it's frustrated him in the past when he starts almost doubting himself when he gets into the big situations, and today it just looked like he was able to shut it out and continue to make pitches. It was impressive. He did a real nice job."
David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.