Lynn can't get out of first inning in tough start

Lynn can't get out of first inning in tough start

ST. LOUIS -- Seeking a statement sweep of the Pirates on Thursday night, the Cardinals instead endured their worst first inning in more than a decade.

With a start briefer than 21 of his 22 career relief appearances, Lance Lynn stomached what he labeled afterward as the worst start of his career. It lasted just two-thirds of an inning -- and by the time it went into the books, the Pirates had scored seven runs before a Cardinals hitter had even grabbed a bat in St. Louis' 10-5 loss. It was the first time since 2004 that the Cardinals had given up that many runs in an opening inning.

"I haven't had a game like that in my life," Lynn said afterward. "It was the [worst] game I've ever thrown in my life, plain and simple. And I'm not happy about it."

Despite what he described as a strong pregame warmup, Lynn found himself knocked around from the get-go. And while the Cardinals' defense could have prevented the inning from unraveling to the extent that it did, Lynn wasn't fooling anyone. Even the first out of the game was a hard line drive off the bat of Gregory Polanco.

From there, Lynn faced nine more batters and watched eight of them reach. Neil Walker scorched a triple off the wall that center fielder Peter Bourjos couldn't grab. Two batters later, a Matt Carpenter throwing error further complicated the inning. Lynn followed with a first-pitch fastball that Pedro Alvarez crushed for a homer, which Statcast™ projected to land 433 feet away in center field.

There would be a hit batter, a ball lost in the sun, three more singles and a relay throw not caught by catcher Yadier Molina before manager Mike Matheny emerged from the dugout. Within the span of 41 pitches, Lynn had given up six runs (three earned). Another inherited runner would score before Tyler Lyons ended the mess.

"Just one of those days," Matheny said. "I think that's basically how we're going to leave it. Forget it as quick as you can. See if there is anything you can learn quickly and move on."

Asked what he could take from it, Lynn replied: "Nothing."

"It was terrible, plain and simple," Lynn added. "You give up seven runs and don't get out of the first inning, that's a poor effort. ... You want to sweep anyone when you have a chance. And then when you don't give your guys a chance from the first inning on, it's disappointing."

Lynn, who has thrown 86 percent fastballs this season, wasn't stung solely by lacking command of that pitch. Two of the hits Lynn allowed came on curveballs. That was also the pitch that plunked Francisco Cervelli.

Matheny, hopeful Lynn could close the first inning, left him in until he grew concerned about the pitch count. Afterward, Matheny wouldn't speculate on whether he'd consider moving Lynn's next start up because of how brief the right-hander's night had been.

When would Lynn like to pitch next?

"I'd pitch tomorrow," he said, "if they'd let me."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.