Lamb improves mightily, but lacks desired outcome

Lamb improves mightily, but lacks desired outcome

MIAMI -- There was a lot to like about what John Lamb did on the mound for the Reds on Saturday. So why did his manager, Bryan Price, seem a little irritated after the game?

Some bad luck mixed with a few lapses, including one by Lamb, were costly -- the kind of costly that turned a well-pitched, career-high nine-strikeout start from being a potential victory into the 4-2 loss to the Marlins.

"I thought he threw the ball just fine," Price said. "We needed a couple of things to go right that would've made that game potentially lead to a different outcome. ... I thought he did -- from a stuff perspective, from a command perspective -- so much better than he did his last start against the Nationals. I was pleased with that."

Lamb, who gave up a career-high eight runs over four innings at Washington on Sunday, demonstrated a big, slow curveball that frustrated Miami. Seven of his strikeouts came on breaking pitches that dipped as low as 67 mph. He gave up three runs (two earned) with six hits -- including two infield singles -- and did not walk a batter.

Also worthy of note, Lamb threw strikes. Only 22 balls were thrown out of his 88 pitches.

"I'd like to feel like I'm capable of striking guys out," Lamb said. "Not everything I throw up there is just easy to swing at. As long as I'm executing, I think good things happen. A day like today when I'm piling up some strikeouts, it's certainly fun out there between the lines."

There were mistakes, too. In the first inning with runners on the corners, Lamb and catcher Ramon Cabrera got crossed up when the lefty threw a curveball to Christian Yelich. It went off Cabrera's glove for a passed ball that scored J.T. Realmuto.

Realmuto tallies a run

"It was my fault," said Lamb, who turns 26 on Sunday. "Going into the game we knew our signs, and I happened to have a [mental lapse] and tried to just lock it back in there after that."

Lamb did just that, retiring 14 of the next 15 batters. With two outs in the fifth and a 2-1 Reds lead, Marlins pitcher Adam Conley's ground ball deflected off Lamb's glove for an infield hit. Then Realmuto lined a single, followed by Jay Bruce misjudging Martin Prado's fly ball to right field -- which went for a go-ahead two-run double.

Prado's two-run double

Price decided to lift Lamb after the fifth despite the lefty's low pitch count. In 13 starts, Lamb is 1-6 with a 5.29 ERA.

"It looked like he was going to be out of that inning in the low 70s, and he ended up in the high 80s by the time it was all said and done," Price said. "It was a long inning, I think 30-plus pitches, and it was time for something fresh."

The strikeouts were a nice plus from Lamb. But Price wasn't ready to get excited about that, yet.

"I'd like to see him pitch deeper in the games before I worry about the strikeouts," Price said. "I can't even talk about these guys, with this limited amount of time, about what they can do in the future. They have to do something like win and pitch innings before I can get excited about anything else. We have to mature. There's a lot of maturing that needs to go on here right now."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.