'He attacked': Lynch allows one hit over seven scoreless

June 21st, 2023

DETROIT -- It didn’t take long Tuesday night for Royals starter and catcher to get in a groove and start rolling.

Lynch used his nine-pitch first inning to catapult toward his strongest start of the season: Seven scoreless innings on one hit, two walks and two strikeouts in the Royals’ 1-0 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.

“He attacked from the very first pitch,” manager Matt Quatraro said.

The first inning laid the blueprint for how Lynch would keep the Tigers quiet en route to the lefty’s first win since Aug. 1, 2022, against the White Sox.

Lynch’s first pitch was a fastball in the upper part of the zone that Zack Short fouled off. Two pitches later, Short flied out to center on a slider, one of just seven that Lynch threw Tuesday. Lynch attacked Spencer Torkelson with three elevated fastballs -- one for a ball and one for a called strike at the top of the zone. He went back to that spot again with the third pitch, and Torkelson flied out to center field.

“I thought I executed my fastball in the upper part of the zone to elicit swings really well,” Lynch said. “I felt like when I threw it up there and had a lot of success, it was in the zone a lot, and I felt good about it.”

Lynch attacked Andy Ibáñez with a fastball up for a called strike, then a slider down and in for a ball. Then came Lynch’s first changeup of the night, and Ibáñez grounded out to third base.

From there, Lynch and Perez relied heavily on the fastball-changeup combination.

“It was one of those things where we just got into a groove,” Lynch said. “I really didn’t spin the ball that much at all today. But I think when something’s working, you just got to stick with it. We didn’t do too much, and that’s how you get on a roll. You’re really just throwing two similar pitches -- changeups and fastballs. It’s easy to get into a rhythm, and as long as that keeps working, you just got to stick with it.”

Lynch elevated the heater when he needed to -- something he is committed to doing this year, and has been throwing up in the zone with more confidence than ever before -- and kept hitters off balance Tuesday with his changeup. He generated nine whiffs on 19 swings (47%) with the pitch.

"He was throwing the heater up and away, trying to get us to chase, and then throwing the changeup off of it,” Tigers catcher Jake Rogers said. “The changeup was pretty good. He was throwing it kind of away today, and we couldn't really stay through it, so something was pretty good about it.

“Salvy was great calling the game back there, so you tip the cap to him and what he did to us."

Lynch also relied on the Tigers’ aggressiveness, quick outs and the Royals’ defense. Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. made some good plays, while Maikel Garcia -- who went 3-for-4 and scored the Royals’ lone run on ’s RBI double in the sixth -- flashed the leather at third.

And Lynch worked quickly, hardly letting the pitch timer get to fewer than eight seconds before he was delivering a pitch.

“When you throw a ton of strikes and there isn’t a lot of traffic on the bases, he can work as quickly as he wants,” Quatraro said. “But I thought that was a big part of the game. As soon as they got into the box, he was ready to go, he threw his changeup for strikes, everything for strikes. They were on the defensive.”

The Tigers’ first hit of the day came with one out in the fourth, when Ibáñez singled up the middle. Lynch was at just 78 pitches after seven innings and thinking about the potential for a complete game when Quatraro handed the ball to the Royals’ high-leverage relievers.

Aroldis Chapman walked three but got out of a scoreless eighth before Scott Barlow notched his eighth save of the season, despite allowing the Tigers’ second hit of the day.

And the Royals finally got to celebrate their 20th win of the season while simultaneously watching a young starter they’ll count on in the future dominate a division opponent. So out came the fog machine, the loud music and the flashing lights in the clubhouse postgame.

“No matter what’s going on in the season, when you win a game in the Major Leagues, you celebrate it,” Lynch said. “We had a lot of guys do a lot of great things tonight. I think it’s a big win.”