Lynch can't shake calf cramp, exits finale

Royals rookie lefty lifted as precaution, goes just 2-plus innings against A's

September 16th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- exited Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the A’s with left calf tightness in the third inning, but early returns on imaging and how he felt after the rubber match have the Royals lefty feeling optimistic that he’ll get back on track with his next start.

Lynch landed awkwardly on his left leg when he threw a slider to Matt Olson in the third inning, and a few minutes later, Lynch left the game with head trainer Nick Kenney.

An MRI showed the injury was a persistent cramp in Lynch's left leg. He felt it in the first inning, but Lynch received treatment when the Royals batted in the bottom of the frame. The cramp went away for the second inning, but it came back during the at-bat to Olson. At that point, Lynch couldn’t shake it, and the Royals needed to make a move for precautionary reasons.

“When that is grabbing, it’s hard to be very consistent with your pitches,” manager Mike Matheny said. “And he got into a spot that we couldn’t get out of. That third inning is where the game happened.”

Lynch didn’t think it was serious when he exited and watched the rest of the inning from the dugout instead of going into the trainer’s room.

“You never really know because you have adrenaline, so sometimes things hurt a lot less,” Lynch said. “I respect the decision to take me out, obviously, but I could have stayed in there and pitched if they needed me to. It was one of those things that was a lot more precautionary.”

Lynch, who started the season ranked as the Royals’ No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, had loaded the bases in the second with a walk, hit batter, single and fielder’s choice, and he ran the count to 3-2 against Olson with the slider that got Lynch out of the game.

While reliever Joel Payamps got Olson to line into a double play on the first pitch, the inning escalated quickly, with the A’s pushing across four runs. Two miscues by second baseman Whit Merrifield and an error on Ryan O’Hearn made three of those runs unearned, but it put the Royals in a 4-2 deficit.

“Aside from a few pitches, I felt like I was commanding the ball well, felt like my stuff was good,” Lynch said. “There were a few unfortunate things that happened, but overall, I felt good about how the delivery felt. ... I was trying to get it loosened up and that’s what was probably concerning them. But I didn’t feel like it was affecting me too much.”

This was Lynch’s 13th start in his rookie season. With one earned run charged to him, he’s allowed 11 runs in 10 2/3 innings over his past three starts after yielding just 10 runs in his seven previous starts (40 1/3 innings) since being recalled from Triple-A Omaha at the end of July.