The loss of right-hander Chris Carpenter to a nerve problem that weakened his right shoulder really has not been a loss so far. Rookie Lance Lynn, who moved from the bullpen to take Carpenter's spot in the rotation, is 3-0 after his third consecutive start in which he gave up just one run.
Lynn was victimized by a second-pitch, inside-the-park home run by Pittsburgh left fielder Alex Presley, a college teammate of Lynn's at Mississippi, but then held the Pittsburgh Pirates to three hits and no runs the rest of the way in a 4-1 Cardinals triumph. Working seven innings for the first time in his big-league career, Lynn, a starter in the minors, walked just one.
That walk came with two out in the seventh and manager Mike Matheny had a reliever warming up as Lynn went to 3-0 on the next hitter, first baseman Garrett Jones. But Lynn rallied to fan Jones on two fastballs to end his night.
"That was as good a fastball as he had all game," said Matheny.
For 19 innings this season, Lynn has allowed only 10 hits and three runs. He fanned four to just the one walk on Friday and has 17 strikeouts to four walks this year.
"Very efficient," said Matheny. "He had good life on the ball and late in the game, he mixed in his off-speed pitches.
"He kept them off balance and worked ahead in the count."
Lynn used his two-seam fastball to advantage early in the game and, under catcher Yadier Molina's direction, began employing his curveball more later in the game.
But while the Cardinals won their 10th game out of 14, they lost another player. Already without injured first baseman Lance Berkman, who is disabled with a strained left calf, and center fielder Jon Jay, who has a sprained right shoulder, new center fielder Skip Schumaker had to come out of the game after two pitches.
Schumaker, just pulled off a rehabilitation option for a strained right oblique -- he had been playing mostly second base while he was at Class AAA Memphis -- banged into the right-center-field wall in a futile pursuit of Presley's ball. After Schumaker hit the ground, Matheny and the trainer came to center field to observe Schumaker, who made a couple of throws and said he felt fine.
"I didn't believe him," said Matheny, who lifted Schumaker from the game.
Schumaker admitted he couldn't breathe. "You don't want to get your rib cage rattled coming off a rib injury," said Schumaker, who said he didn't think he was seriously hurt but would know more on Saturday. "Hopefully, it's not a huge deal.
"I don't think this was the debut I was looking for. First of all, I should have caught the ball. Not being able to get to the ball and then stare at it a little bit ... that was fun."
Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.