07 Jul

that’s one to flush

Lance Lynn’s first pitch — a fastball, of course — was crushed out of Nationals Park, a home run by C.J. Abrams that portended the worst start of the veteran right-hander’s long MLB career. Former Ole Miss star Lynn allowed nine hits (three homers), four walks and 11 runs (10 earned) in 2 2/3 innings Saturday in St. Louis’ 14-6 loss at Washington. His record dropped to 4-4 and his ERA ballooned to 4.48 over 18 starts. Lynn had been brilliant in winning his previous two starts, allowing just one run in 12 2/3. But on Saturday, on a 97-degree day, the Nationals jumped all over his normally reliable four-seamer. The Cardinals surely knew there would be days like this when they signed the 37-year-old Lynn, who is approaching 2,000 career MLB innings, as a free agent in the off-season. A fiery innings-eater most of his career, Lynn is averaging just 5.0 innings per start in 2024. His fastball velocity is not what it once was. He gave up an MLB-worst 44 homers in 2023 but had yielded just 10 before Saturday’s disaster, which may raise concerns. For his part, Lynn didn’t seem too worried postgame. “I wouldn’t be playing this long if I didn’t flush (bad outings),” he told mlb.com. … Minnesota reportedly is recalling ex-Southern Miss slugger Matt Wallner from Triple-A St. Paul, where he is batting .259 with 19 homers and 53 RBIs since an April demotion. P.S. The final Biloxi-Mississippi Southern League game produced a memorable pitchers duel, won by the visiting Shuckers 2-1 at Trustmark Park. Ex-USM star Landon Harper ran his scoreless streak to 20 innings for the M-Braves, going four innings as the starter Saturday. For the Shuckers, Milwaukee prospect Jacob Misiorowski yielded one run in 6 1/3 innings and struck out 10. Remember that name. … Mississippi State alum J.T. Ginn notched his first Triple-A victory Saturday, allowing two runs over six innings for Las Vegas (Oakland system). Ginn is 1-3, 7.03, in nine games for the Aviators. He was 4-1, 4.15, in Double-A this season.

12 Oct

leaving a mark

Home runs were the dominant theme in the MLB playoffs on Wednesday night. There were 14 in the three games, and a couple of postseason homer records were set. Unfortunately for former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn, he was on the bad end of one of those records. The 36-year-old right-hander, starting for Los Angeles, allowed four solo homers in the third inning, accounting for all of Arizona’s scoring in a 4-2 win that clinched a National League Division Series sweep for the upstart Diamondbacks. No team had ever hit four homers in one inning of a postseason game. “The way (Lynn) was throwing the baseball, I didn’t expect that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told the Los Angeles Times. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a total shock. Lynn led all of MLB with 44 homers allowed this season, which he split between the Chicago White Sox and the Dodgers. And the ball flies at Arizona’s Chase Field. Lynn — described by TBS’s Ron Darling as “stubborn, angry and mule-ish” on the mound — got through the first two innings, allowing just two singles. Then … boom: 1,626 feet of home runs in the third. Lynn was gone after 2 2/3 and the Dodgers, the No. 2 seed in the NL, were gone from the postseason a little while later. Lynn has had a great career. He won an SEC title at Ole Miss and a World Series title with St. Louis. He has made two All-Star Games. He has won 136 major league games, five more in the postseason, and he won a World Baseball Classic game earlier this year. But that four-homer inning is no doubt gonna sting for a while. … Elsewhere, Philadelphia hit a club-record six homers, two by Bryce Harper, in a 10-2 win over Atlanta at another homer haven, Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies lead that NLDS 2-1 heading into Game 4 tonight. Former Mississippi Braves standout Spencer Strider, a 20-game winner this year, will start for the Braves. … Houston clinched its seventh straight American League Championship Series appearance by beating host Minnesota 3-2 in Game 4. All the runs in that game came via the long ball, with Jose Abreu hitting the go-ahead shot — his third in the two games at Target Field — in the fourth inning.

19 Jun

punching ’em out

There was no joy in Seattle for Lance Lynn and the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, but a record-tying effort deserves some bit of fanfare. Ole Miss alum Lynn struck out 16 batters, matching a franchise mark set in 1954. “My stuff was good,” Lynn told mlb.com, “but we lost. It doesn’t matter how many you strike out if you don’t win the game.” The White Sox’s 5-1 loss dropped their record to 31-42. Lynn is 4-8 with a 6.51 ERA. But Sunday’s outing was one of his best in a tough year. He threw 114 pitches over seven innings, allowed four hits, two walks and three runs. Lynn has 1,817 career punchouts, third-most — for the time being — among Mississippians in MLB history. Now in his 12th big league season, the burly right-hander struck out 246 batters in 2019, most by a Mississippian in a single season. On the career chart, Weir’s Roy Oswalt finished with 1,852 and Meridian Community College alum Cliff Lee got 1,824. Ex-Ole Miss star Jeff Fassero had 1,104, Greenwood native and Mississippi State product Paul Maholm 984 and Leakesville native Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell 918. Baseball Reference credits Negro Leagues star and Hall of Famer Bill Foster, an Alcorn State alumnus who grew up in Rodney, with 922; he likely had more than that. P.S. Former Ole Miss standout Nick Fortes went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run as Miami beat Washington to climb 10 games over .500 for the first time in 12 years. The Marlins are 41-31, 5 games back of Atlanta in the National League East. Fortes is batting .243 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 47 games as Miami’s catcher; the team reportedly likes his work behind the plate.

14 Mar

job well done

It has been quite the journey for Lance Lynn, who checked off another career achievement on Monday night when he pitched in the World Baseball Classic. The ex-Ole Miss standout delivered a dominant five innings (hitting the 65-pitch limit on the nose) as the United States pummeled Canada 12-1 in a pivotal game. Team USA’s star-studded lineup scored a record nine runs in the first inning against Canada’s overmatched pitchers — a 19-year-old from A-ball and an independent leaguer — and Lynn took it from there, allowing just two hits and fanning six. The 35-year-old Lynn has virtually done it all in the game. He has played in the Little League World Series, won a prep state title with an undefeated team in Indiana, helped Ole Miss win an SEC crown and reach three regionals during his time in Oxford, won a World Series as a rookie with St. Louis, made two All-Star Games and now won a WBC game. Perhaps a WBC title is in the offing. The burly right-hander has 123 MLB wins since 2011 and will be a key figure again in the Chicago White Sox’s rotation this season. P.S. Grae Kessinger, another Ole Miss product, hit his second homer of the spring on Monday for Houston. The grandson of former MLB All-Star Don, Kessinger is 4-for-15 with the world champion Astros in Grapefruit League play. Now 25, the former second-round pick has played in Double-A the last two years with only modest results. … Tampa Bay optioned right-hander Colby White, a Mississippi State alum from Hattiesburg, to Triple-A. White missed all of 2022 with an arm injury.

16 Sep

rock ’em, sock ’em

A show of power carried the Chicago White Sox past Cleveland on Thursday. Not just the five home runs, mind you, but also the stuff coming out of Lance Lynn’s right hand. The big, burly, bearded veteran out of Ole Miss threw 106 pitches, almost exclusively fastballs, at the Guardians over 6 1/3 innings and yielded just two runs in the White Sox’s much-needed 8-2 victory at Progressive Field. The win in the makeup game moved Chicago to within 3 games of first-place Cleveland in the American League Central. Lynn, who allowed six hits and one walk while striking out six on Thursday, is 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA in his last seven starts. He has 51 punchouts and just five walks in that span, flashing the form that made him a Cy Young Award contender in 2021. Chicago needs more of that down the stretch. Lynn’s 2022 season was delayed by a spring training knee injury and surgery, and the 35-year-old had some wobbly efforts early on. He is just 7-5, 3.99 ERA, in 18 starts overall for a team that has underachieved after winning the division last year. This will be an interesting weekend in the AL Central race. While the Guardians are hosting third-place Minnesota for five games through Monday, the ChiSox are at lowly Detroit for three.

13 Jun

to the rescue?

Lance Lynn won’t come riding in on a white horse tonight for the Chicago White Sox, but he might as well be. The former Ole Miss star, the White Sox’s most effective starter in 2021, has been out all season with a knee injury. The 35-year-old right-hander gets the ball tonight at Detroit for a scuffling team that needs a rescue. Here’s how a headline in the Chicago Tribune summed up the situation: “It’s up to Lance Lynn to save the Chicago White Sox’s season — and it begins tonight in Detroit.” The White Sox, favorites in the American League Central, are 27-31. They’ve been hit hard by injuries, not the least of which was Lynn’s. He made three rehab starts at Triple-A Charlotte and allowed 10 runs in 10 innings. But the ChiSox need him. Tonight and beyond. Lynn, the 39th overall pick in the MLB draft out of Oxford back in 2008, is 115-77 with a 3.48 career ERA. He won 11 games with a 2.68 last year, when he was a Cy Young Award finalist. He’s a gamer. He’ll give it all he’s got, for sure. But can he save the White Sox’s season? P.S. Chicago’s other team, the rebuilding Cubs, is also struggling at 23-36. They’ll give the ball tonight to young lefty Justin Steele, the former George County High standout who is 1-5, 4.79. He’s had some good moments but not enough of them. And he always seems to draw a tough matchup. Tonight at Wrigley Field, he faces the 37-win San Diego Padres and Yu Darvish.

07 Oct

eye on …

Lance Lynn gets the start for Chicago in today’s American League Division Series opener, which arguably is the most important game in a best-of-5. Lynn may have gone to Ole Miss, but the big right-hander is a bulldog on the mound. He went 11-6 with a 2.69 ERA for the White Sox this season, working 157 innings in 28 starts, and was considered a Cy Young Award candidate at one point. “He’s going to come at you,” White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal told the Chicago Tribune, “he’s going to pressure you and you’d better be ready when he’s on the mound.” Lynn’s one appearance against Houston did not go well: six runs in four innings back in June. Expect him to use that as motivation. Lynn has a wealth of postseason experience, having pitched in 26 games going back to his rookie year of 2011, when he won a ring as a reliever with St. Louis. Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College star, will lead off the game for the White Sox; he was hot down the stretch and went 9-for-14 in his first MLB postseason in 2020. Ocean Springs High alum Garrett Crochet, a lefty reliever, and Taylorsville High product Billy Hamilton, a reserve outfielder, could also play valuable roles for Chicago. But Lynn is the one to watch today. …
Hunter Renfroe feasted (.338, four homers, 18 RBIs) on Tampa Bay pitching this season, perhaps motivated by the fact the Rays cut him loose after last season. The ex-Mississippi State standout, who batted .259 with 31 homers and 96 RBIs in 2021, will be somewhere in the middle of Boston’s lineup — and in right field — in tonight’s ALDS. Renfroe has limited postseason experience, but he hit two homers for the Rays last fall during their run to the World Series and went 1-for-3 in the pressure-cooker AL Wild Card Game vs. New York on Monday. He brings game-changing power, even in a pitcher’s park like Tropicana Field.

19 Aug

fun at old ballpark

On a wacky Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Lance Lynn took the ERA lead in the American League. That was a good thing. But the former Ole Miss standout said he felt miserable during the game — and that was before he was ejected for throwing his belt from the dugout onto the field following the top of the fourth inning. That was a bad thing. But the first-place White Sox won the game 3-2 over Oakland as a gang of relievers – including Ocean Springs’ Garrett Crochet – closed it out. So, that was a good thing. Lynn, apparently dealing with a physical issue, battled through his four innings, throwing 88 pitches while yielding one run on three hits and three walks. All he needed was to throw 1 1/3 innings Wednesday to qualify for the ERA lead, which he now owns with a 2.26. But he would have liked to go more than four. Lynn’s night ended when third-base umpire Nic Lentz tossed him for tossing his belt. It was his first career ejection. Lynn had left his glove and hat on the field for the obligatory sticky-stuff inspection as he hustled into the dugout, he said, to see the trainer. The ump yelled for the belt. Lynn threw it. “(O)bviously, I hurt his feelings,” Lynn said in a postgame interview. Lynn, who can be a little intense, vowed to be back on the bump in five days. P.S. Mississippi State alum Jacob Robson, 0-for-7 in four games with Detroit, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo. He was having a strong season there and will probably get another big-league look.

14 Jun

meanwhile, in mlb …

Yes, there is a big game in Starkville tonight, but if you can keep an eye on – or an ear tuned to – one big league game, make it Tampa Bay-Chicago White Sox (7:10 CDT) at Guaranteed Rate Field. Lance Lynn, the grizzled vet out of Ole Miss, will pitch for the White Sox against rising star Tyler Glasnow of the Rays. It’s a matchup of division leaders who own the two best records in MLB. Lynn, never better even at age 34, is 7-1 with a 1.23 ERA. He leads the American League in ERA and is fourth in WHIP (0.88). He has one complete game (nine innings) and is averaging six innings a start, admirable by today’s standards. Lynn is 111-72 career, needing one more W to tie for 499th place on all-time list. That’s no mean feat. Only one Ole Miss product has ever won more: Jeff Fassero racked up 121 wins over 16 seasons. Lynn faces quite the challenge tonight. The Rays are on a 23-5 tear with a plus-86 run differential in the stretch. But Lynn will have the full-throated support of ChiSox fans, who have taken to the big man’s emotions-on-his-sleeve personality. “I’m going to give it everything I have to help the team win,” Lynn told the Chicago Sun-Times in a recent interview. “I’ve had that since I was a little kid.”

09 Apr

according to plan

Lance Lynn and the Chicago White Sox could not have scripted it any better. In the team’s home opener, in the former Ole Miss star’s first start at Guaranteed Rate Field with his new club, Lynn threw a five-hit shutout, striking out 11 in a 6-0 win Thursday against Kansas City. He capped the performance with a punchout. “He was just nails,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said in an mlb.com story. It was the second career shutout and fourth complete game for the veteran right-hander, acquired by the White Sox from Texas in an off-season trade. The White Sox surely are thrilled with what they’ve seen from their No. 3 starter, who slots in behind Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. Lynn, now 105-71 in his career, has not allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings this season. P.S. The White Sox placed ex-Taylorsville High standout Billy Hamilton on the injured list with a hamstring injury. He joins East Central Community College product Tim Anderson (hammy) on the 10-day IL.