10/23/11 2:36 AM ET
Lynn restores order, earns Game 3 victory
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
That's not to assume that Lynn was oblivious to the obvious. He understood well the possibility -- a seemingly sizeable one for a while -- that the anticipation could be sapped prematurely.
But Lynn never lost sight of the other option, either. He knew that there was this chance that a return to his Brownsburg, Ind., residence could be delayed by the improbable, that St. Louis would still be hosting baseball games nearly two weeks after the regular season concluded.
And so, during the waning days of September, Lynn would show up in the Cardinals' clubhouse and start peppering his teammates with the same request day after day. He asked for their time. He asked for their bat. He asked for their eye.
The September callups were often the most willing. But Lynn, who was recovering from a left oblique strain, thanked anyone who'd volunteer to help him replicate an appearance as well as can be done hours before the gates of a ballpark open.
With the Minor League season over and no instructional league available, Lynn had limited resources.
"We tried to do as much as we could to simulate as many innings as we could," Lynn said. "That helped me when I got back on the mound, so that it wasn't like I hadn't seen hitters in recent days or weeks."
As the simulations progressed, so, too, did the Cardinals' chances at a postseason berth. They got one, took care of the Phillies in the first round and opened the National League Championship Series on, of all days, that second Sunday of the month.
It marked the earliest date Lynn could come off the 60-day disabled list, and manager Tony La Russa happily made the move to add the rookie reliever to the LCS roster. Lynn responded by coming back without a trace of rust and further added to his sensational postseason showing with a critical appearance out of the bullpen in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday.
His 2 1/3-inning appearance brought order to a game that was in the midst of being overrun by both offenses. It also later earned Lynn the win in the Cardinals' runaway 16-7 road victory over the Rangers. The win staked St. Louis to a 2-1 Series lead.
It also marked just the second time since 1996 that a World Series win went to a reliever who tossed more than two innings.
"Unbelievable," reliever Octavio Dotel called it. "You have to understand that the team that they have and the offense they have, he came up in a tough situation and stopped them. It was an unbelievable great job."
Lynn entered in the bottom of the fifth, with the Cardinals' four-run lead on unsteady ground. Fernando Salas left Lynn with a pair of runners in scoring position and No. 5 hitter Adrian Beltre at the plate. There were no outs.
With La Russa's advice -- "Take a deep breath and do what you do" -- and a fastball-curveball mix to get him through, Lynn went to work.
He allowed one inherited run to score in that frame and only one other by the time his 47-pitch night was done. The outing was his longest -- in terms of innings and pitch count -- since a relief appearance on June 24. He hadn't been asked to record more than four outs in any of his previous six postseason games.
"Somebody had to come in and try to calm the storm, I guess, and I was able to make a couple pitches, and I actually got away with some pitches, too," said Lynn, who had not previously been scored upon this month. "So to be able to come in and get a couple outs there and not have to go in our bullpen any deeper, I felt like that was good movement on the rest of the Series."
It certainly helped to save the Cardinals' bullpen, which has now covered 43 percent of the innings the team has pitched this postseason. With at least two World Series games remaining, La Russa is already only three calls to the bullpen shy of tying a postseason record.
On Saturday, Lynn left Dotel and Mitchell Boggs to take care of only the final eight outs. While the Rangers ran through five relievers, St. Louis used four.
"Lance was well rested, and even though they came in and got a run, they didn't give it the big number," said La Russa.
"It turned out great. We saved some pitching for [Sunday]. But there were some very pressure-filled innings for Salas and for Lynn and even with Dotel in there. There was no certainty. They have been doing that so consistently. That's why we have a shot."
Lynn will be unavailable for both of the next two games, La Russa confirmed afterward. But if the Series extends past a Game 5, Lynn expects to be strong. He spent all of September merely preparing for this.
"You know, I always wanted to pitch and always felt like I was going to be able to get back," Lynn said. "And to have the faith of the manager and the front office to give me this opportunity is great. I'm just glad that I'm able to be a part of this and be productive."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.