15 Jun

seize the moment

Tie game, seventh inning, two outs, one on. Minnesota manager Paul Molitor decided to let starting pitcher Lance Lynn face one more Detroit batter. That batter was JaCoby Jones. It was a Mississippi baseball aficionado moment Thursday at Comerica Park. Jones, the former Mr. Baseball from Richton High, hit a 3-1 fastball from Lynn, the former Ole Miss star, over the left-field wall, sending Lynn to the dugout and the Tigers to a 3-1 win. The slumping Jones, who had fanned in his first two at-bats against Lynn, said he guessed fastball and got one. It was his fifth homer of the year; he is batting .222 with 18 RBIs in 62 games. The Tigers have resisted the urge to send Jones to the minors to work on his hitting. His defense in left field remains a plus. “And with the energy that he brings, I love the kid,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, the old Jackson Met, told mlb.com. Lynn, who was 3-0 in his previous four starts and took a shutout into the seventh, fell to 4-5, 4.98 ERA. “I need to be better next time,” he told The Associated Press. P.S. With his fifth homer, Jones has caught Zack Cozart and Corey Dickerson for fourth place in the All-Mississippi Home Run Derby race, which has slowed to a crawl. Leader Tim Anderson has 11 but none since May 28. Mitch Moreland hit his 10th on June 3, same day Brian Dozier got No. 9. Cozart hasn’t gone deep since May 9, Dickerson since May 4.

10 Mar

beefing up

Minnesota just became a much more serious player in the American League Central with the reported signing of ex-Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn. The free agent right-hander reportedly has agreed to a 1-year deal in the $12 million range. Lynn is a warrior and a winner. In his time with St. Louis, he went 72-47 with a 3.38 ERA. He joins a Twins rotation that also includes Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, who was jettisoned by Tampa Bay. Led primarily by the hitting of Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, the surprising Twins won 85 games and earned a wild card berth in 2017, a year after winning just 59 games. Many projections had them contending for the postseason again this season, and that was before adding Lynn. He didn’t get the big money he was hoping for after making $7.5M last year, so it figures he’ll be motivated.

29 Sep

close the curtain

The St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff hopes ended on Thursday, and Ole Miss product Lance Lynn’s tenure with the team apparently is done, as well. “It’s not a good feeling,” Lynn told The Associated Press. The Cardinals lost 2-1 in 11 innings to what a St. Louis newspaper called the “Cubs’ scrubs.” Chicago clinched the National League Central on Wednesday and rested most of its starters. Lynn, a free agent after this season, his 10th in the Cardinals’ organization, went to the post for the 33rd time and worked five innings, allowing three hits, four walks and one run. He was saddled with his 14th no-decision. After missing 2016 following Tommy John surgery, Lynn finishes 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA. … Elsewhere on Thursday: Former Meridian Community College star Corey Dickerson went 2-for-5 with his 27th homer as Tampa Bay dealt New York a 9-6 loss that damaged the Yankees’ chances of an American League East title. They’re 3 back of Boston with three to play and can only hope to force a playoff. Mississippi State alum Jonathan Holder yielded hits to the only two batters he faced in the Rays’ pivotal seven-run fifth. … Ex-State standout Mitch Moreland’s 22nd homer was just eyewash in Boston’s 12-2 drubbing at the hands of Houston. … Milwaukee stayed alive in the NL wild card battle with a 4-3 win over Cincinnati, defying the efforts of Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton (1-for-4, 59th steal), UM alum Stuart Turner (1-for-4) and Northwest Mississippi CC product Cody Reed (one clean inning).

24 Sep

bad timing

It started – and ended – with a Rebel vs. Bulldog confrontation. The worst start of Lance Lynn’s MLB career began on Saturday with a double off the bat of Adam Frazier. Former Mississippi State star Frazier would also be the last batter ex-Ole Miss standout Lynn would face in the first inning of the Pittsburgh-St. Louis game. In between Frazier’s two at-bats – the second resulted in a walk — the Pirates scored six runs. Lynn, who recorded just two outs, would be charged with eight runs all told in the inning and took the loss in the Pirates’ 11-6 victory. Lynn’s ERA jumped almost 40 points to 3.47; his record dipped to 11-8. What’s worse, the Cardinals fell behind Milwaukee in both the National League Central and wild card races. The Brewers’ 4-3 10-inning, walk-off win over the Chicago Cubs moved them 4.5 games back in the division and 1 back of Colorado for the second wild card. St. Louis is 5 back and 1.5 back in those races. In sum, it was a bad time for a bad start for the usually reliable Lynn, a pending free agent. P.S. Ex-State star Mitch Moreland’s 20th homer of the year propelled Boston to a 5-0 win against Cincinnati and closer to clinching the American League East. The New York Yankees clinched at least a wild card by beating Toronto 5-1 but remain 4 back of Boston in the division. … Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier’s leadoff “little league home run” – he circled the bases on a pair of errant throws – started Minnesota on its way to a 10-4 win over Detroit as the Twins kept a grip on the second wild card in the AL. Kansas City is now third, 4 games back.

08 Sep

good enough

Sometimes, good isn’t good enough. Ole Miss product Lance Lynn went into Thursday’s game for St. Louis leading the majors with 21 starts in which he had given up two earned runs or fewer. He made it 22 with a six-inning outing against San Diego, allowing only one run. But it wasn’t good enough for a win. The Cardinals were shut out by Clayton Richard and three relievers and lost 3-0. “That’s just baseball sometimes …,” Lynn told The Associated Press. Lynn fell to 10-7 and the Cardinals to 72-68, 5 games back in the National League Central and 3 off the pace in the wild card chase. Lynn, who has a 2.94 ERA over his 29 starts, has risen to the occasion in what could prove to be a pivotal season in his career. He missed the 2016 MLB season following Tommy John surgery and will be a free agent after this season, his sixth in the big leagues, all with the Cardinals, who drafted him in the first round (supplemental) out of Ole Miss in 2008. Lynn was the subject of trade rumors in mid-July, but the Cardinals held on to him and the 30-year-old right-hander has helped the club stay in playoff contention. He is 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA – and seven no-decisions — since the All-Star break. In short, he’s been good — good enough that he’ll likely find no shortage of suitors in the off-season.

24 May

tough luck

By the numbers and under the circumstances, it was Lance Lynn’s best start of the season and among the best in his seven-year big league career. Alas, the Ole Miss product got a no-decision and his team, the St. Louis Cardinals, took a loss, 2-1 in 13 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Lynn went up against Clayton Kershaw in a battle of aces at Dodger Stadium and certainly held his own. In eight innings – 123 pitches – Lynn allowed just two hits and one run – a homer by Yasmani Grandal in the first inning – while striking out 10. Kershaw went nine, also struck out 10 and yielded just three hits. But a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth cost him a run and sent the game into extra innings. “(Y)ou knew when we headed into this, I figured it was going to be a well-pitched game on both sides,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told The Associated Press. “It was just going to be who got that big hit, and it was them.” Specifically, that would be a Logan Forsythe RBI double in the 13th. Lynn, a pending free agent who missed 2016 after Tommy John surgery, is 4-2 with a 2.53 ERA and 50 punchouts in 53 1/3 innings. P.S. Mark it down: Former Petal High star Anthony Alford got his first MLB hit on Tuesday, a pinch double in the seventh inning for Toronto against Milwaukee’s Rob Scahill.

20 Mar

give him the ball

Lance Lynn appears to be making strides on his comeback trail. The Ole Miss product, who missed 2016 after Tommy John surgery, threw five shutout innings for St. Louis against Atlanta on Sunday, reducing his ERA this spring to 1.29 in 14 innings over four starts. He wasn’t razor sharp vs. the Braves, but the big right-hander did what he does: He battled. Lynn, who won 60 games for the Cardinals from 2012-15, made at least 29 starts and threw at least 175 innings in each of those seasons. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he expects nothing less in 2017. “If you set yourself below that,” he said, “why take the ball?” The Cardinals in general should be angry birds. They missed the postseason last year, snapping a streak going back to 2010, and then watched the rival Chicago Cubs win it all. Lynn, who’ll turn 30 in May, may also be motivated by the fact he is eligible for free agency after this season. P.S. Joey Butler – remember him? – got a hit in his lone at-bat on Sunday for Washington, which had summoned the Pascagoula native from minor league camp. Butler, 31 and now with his fifth organization, batted .276 with eight homers for Tampa Bay in 2015 but spent all of 2016 in Triple-A with Cleveland. He might get stuck there again with the Nationals.