Right-hander dialed in for four-inning start; offense puts up seven-run sixth
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals notched their second straight Grapefruit League win -- an 11-0 victory over the visiting Braves at Roger Dean Stadium - on Thursday behind a 10-strikeout performance from starter Lance Lynn.
Lynn struck out the final eight batters he faced to close his four-inning start, the longest of his three outings this spring. Lynn is the first Cardinals pitcher in at least two decades to strike out 10 in a Spring Training game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
He allowed only one single, a sharp contrast to Lynn's performance last week, when he was knocked around for five earned runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings.
"Today was a good day," Lynn said afterward. "The ball felt good coming out of my hand. I was able to make pitches today, and that's what it's all about. I'm starting to get there. It was a good step in the process of getting ready for the season."
After Ernesto Mejia's one-out single in the second, Lynn did not allow another Atlanta hitter to put a ball in play. Of the eight consecutive strikeouts that followed, six were swinging. He struck out everyone in the Braves' starting lineup at least once, except Mejia. Lynn threw 44 of his 66 pitches for strikes.
By the time Lynn exited to a standing ovation, the Cardinals had already built up a four-run lead against Atlanta starter Freddy Garcia. Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina had RBI doubles in the first. An unearned run scored in the second, and shortstop Jhonny Peralta extended the lead with a run-scoring double in the third.
Those were three of the six hits Garcia allowed over four innings. He hadn't pitched past the third in his three previous starts. Garcia walked one, struck out three and has now given up 10 runs (nine earned) over his last two appearances (6 2/3 innings).
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Atlanta, which will host the Cardinals in two days. The afternoon didn't get any better for the Braves after Garcia's exit, either. The Cardinals scored seven times in the sixth inning off Cory Gearrin and Mark Lamm. Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter delivered an RBI single in the inning before Xavier Scruggs knocked a bases-clearing double.
Five relievers, including Randy Choate, Eric Fornataro and Tyler Lyons, preserved the shutout for St. Louis.
Up next: The Cardinals will play in central Florida each of the next two days, beginning with a 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Astros in Kissimmee on Friday (live on MLB.TV). Right-hander Michael Wacha will make his third start of the spring and is scheduled to be followed by Kevin Siegrist, Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek and Seth Maness. The Cardinals will have some of their position players then spend the night in the area since Saturday's game is to be played in nearby Orlando. Friday will mark the final spring game in which the Cards use a designated hitter.