Lynn trying to erase those first-inning runs

Lynn trying to erase those first-inning runs

Lynn trying to erase those first-inning runs
ST. LOUIS -- Stung by first-inning runs at an alarming rate this season, Lance Lynn decided to vary his pregame routine in each of his last two starts. He chose to warm up earlier, which allowed him more time to sit before taking the mound.

The tweak didn't work, as six of the eight runs Lynn allowed in his last two outings were scored in the first.

It's certainly not the first change Lynn has tried, as anything he hasn't attempted to alter this year, he's likely tried before. That's because Lynn has had first-inning woes since, well, Little League.

"It's been a problem my whole life, since I was 10 years old," Lynn said. "I have always been someone who pitched better late in games. They know that, and we've been trying to work on it since 2008. We thought it was behind us."

Lynn said on Friday, one day before he starts against the Pirates, that he's done fiddling and that he will return to his normal routine, which he believes can still work consistently, even if it hasn't all season.

The contrast between Lynn in the first inning and Lynn in every other inning is extreme. He's allowed 21 earned runs, seven home runs, 31 hits and 10 walks in 23 first innings this season. His ERA in the frame: 8.22.

In comparison, Lynn's ERA from the second inning on is 2.74. The right-hander has given up only 35 runs, six home runs, 97 hits and 40 walks after the first inning. So what gives?

"I'd summarize it as it's mainly about mental approach and preparation, what his idea is for a first-inning game plan," manager Mike Matheny said. "Not just having those ideas, but then the execution of them."

The first-inning troubles have been particularly exaggerated recently for Lynn. In his last four starts, nine of the 16 runs he has given up have come in that opening frame.

His opponent on Saturday knows something about jumping on him early, too. Back on July 30, Lynn allowed six runs in a home start against Pittsburgh. Four of those runs were scored in the first.

"It's gotten to that point where I can't let it snowball it anymore," Lynn said. "I have to go out there and get the job done at this point. Plain and simple: I'm not worried about it anymore. I just have to go out and pitch my game."