Cardinals' Lyons pitches five perfect innings
Left-hander strikes out five, notches first Arizona Fall League win
Tyler Lyons got to watch all seven games of the World Series, thanks to the Arizona Fall League's daytime-heavy schedule. On Wednesday afternoon, he pitched well enough to divert at least a little attention from St. Louis' post-title afterglow.
The Cardinals prospect hurled five perfect innings for his first AFL win as the Peoria Javelinas surprised the first-place Salt River Rafters, 4-2.
Lyons (1-2) threw 39 of 57 pitches for strikes and fanned five in matching the longest outing in the AFL this season. Winless in his first four Fall League outings, he had allowed 10 runs on 12 hits over 7 2/3 innings in his past two starts. What was the difference?
"The ability to throw all my pitches for strikes," he said.
Specifically, he worked his fastball on both sides of the plate, employing his curveball early in the count and his changeup at any time while finishing hitters off with his slider.
A 2010 ninth-round Draft pick, Lyons delayed signing his first contract to rest a tired throwing elbow. In his first pro season, he went 9-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 33 games, including 12 starts, for Class A Advanced Palm Beach. "I had a lot of good outings and I had some bumps in the road," admitted Lyons, who began the year in the bullpen. "As it went along, I got a lot more comfortable. And that was a key for for me."
The 23-year-old left-hander is no stranger to chasing history. On Aug. 8, he pitched a seven-inning no-hitter, his first since Little League and the first in Palm Beach's nine-year history.
"It's up there," Lyons said, listing Wednesday's game among his early career highlights. "It's an accomplishment to be able to do that, facing some of the best hitters in the Minor Leagues."
The Javelinas' bid for perfection lasted mere moments after Lyons' exit. Brandon Kintzler (Brewers) allowed a solo homer to Dodgers prospect Gorman Erickson with one out in the sixth before Jake Lemmerman (Dodgers) and Jay Austin (Astros) delivered back-to-back doubles to produce the Rafters' other run.
"Stuff happens," Lyons said. "Not a big deal -- we got the win in the end."
Javelinas leadoff man Scooter Gennett, the Brewers' No. 4 prospect, and No. 9 hitter Ryan Jackson (Cardinals) each went 3-for-4. It was the second straight three-hit game for Gennett, who raised his average to .383, while Jackson struck out on four pitches in the eighth inning to fall a homer shy of the cycle.
Peoria scored three runs with two outs in the fourth to grab a 4-0 lead. Jackson tripled home a pair and trotted home on a base hit by Gennett.
"It's good for him," Lyons said of Jackson, a fellow Cards farmhand who spent 2011 at Double-A Springfield. "As good as the hitters I am facing, he is facing just as good of pitching."
Rafters starter Charles Brewer (1-1) gave up all four runs on eight hits over four innings. The D-backs prospect struck out two and did not walk a batter.
Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.