Back when the earth was young, and the only way to follow a Midwest team from the West Coast was via box scores and newspaper clippings from extended family, the trek to the ballpark was almost a religious event. MLB Extra Innings and MLB.tv have put live game action just a click away, but the this old salt still tries to make it out to the ballpark every year to see the Cardinals play at least once.
Last year I saw Matt Carpenter deposit a ball deep into the RC seats, kind of a harbinger of the good things we’ve seen this season. This year the stars aligned, and we were treated to Tyler Lyons‘ major league debut. I know – the game was almost 3 weeks ago. Bear with me.
This game had a lot of interest because the Padres started Burch Smith, a hard-throwing 20 year old up from AA. Burch got lit up by the Rays but pitched well against the Nationals. He has the ability to be very good, but his fastball is currently very hard and very straight. Think Todd Worrell. St Louis came out aggressively swinging at fastballs, and KO’d Smith after 11 hitters.
Meanwhile, Lyons got in an early groove and cruised. Only one leadoff hitter reached through the first six innings, and that man was doubled off first by Carlos Beltran. Lyons had three three-ball counts total during his seven innings. San Diego was aggressive early in the count with some success; 3 of their four hits were on the first or second pitch of the at bat. If they swung before seeing three pitches they tended to hit the ball in the air. Prior to Jedd Gyorko‘s HR, of the nine balls hit on the third pitch of the at-bat or earlier 6 were hit in the air, including 2 of the 4 hits Lyons surrendered. After Gyorko’s HR – which was a prodigious poke – Trevor retired the side on 5 pitches, all on the ground.
He struck out 4 and walked one. Impressively to me, he struck out Jesus Guzman twice. Guzman kills lefties; he has a lifetime .850 OPS lifetime against them, and Lyons handled him.
St Louis’ rookie pitching success this year has been well documented. Jamie Garcia has a torn labrum, the same injury, I hate to remind you, that ended Mark Mulder‘s career. Should Garcia not be able to return to the form he has displayed in his career it is reassuring to know the team has a pitcher of Tyler Lyons caliber ready to replace him.
Mike’s blogged about the Cardinals since 2006, at various locations. Mike is social periodically @metzgermg.