The Lance Lynn experience has rarely been a smooth one, and his start Saturday against the Indians was Lynn on full display, warts and all.
He allowed only two hits but walked five hitters and plunked another. He threw 113 pitches, the most he has thrown all season, but only 65 for strikes.
“Pitch counts are pointless,” a taciturn Lynn said after the game. “It’s about how you’re doing.”
He did well enough. His customary wildness did not prevent him from defeating the Indians, as he pitched himself in and out of trouble while the Twins offense continued its resurrection in a 7-1 victory at Target Field.
Suddenly Lynn’s numbers are coming back to Earth after a rough April and early May. In his past three starts, Lynn (4-4) has allowed just three earned runs and his earned-run average is down to 5.46 while picking up three wins.
He just hasn’t made it look easy. Saturday was no exception.
“I thought it was pretty gritty,” manager Paul Molitor said. “You look at the traffic he created for himself … he gets pretty flustered out there at times.
“He made some close pitches that didn’t go his way, but he just kept finding his way to grind through it.”
The third inning required a lot of that grinding. Lynn walked two hitters and hit Yonder Alonso to load the bases. He then went to 3-2 on right fielder Greg Allen, who fouled off a few pitches before flying out to Eddie Rosario to end the inning and allowing Target Field to exhale.
“What you saw earlier in the season versus now is him getting out of those and making big pitches,” second baseman Brian Dozier said.
It kept the Twins within a run and allowed them to get the lead in the bottom of the third. Dozier tripled on a high fly ball that scraped the wall in right field, and a similar towering shot from Rosario barely made it into the first row of seats over the wall.
The triple and home run had a hit probability of 11 and 16 percent, respectively, according to Statcast, but the Twins won’t complain about something like that going their way.
Lynn continued his escape act in the fifth inning. With two on, he induced the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion to hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Lynn pounded his glove and gave a roar after the outs went into the books.
Soon after the fifth the overcast sky that rained on Target Field earlier in the day gave way to afternoon sunshine.
It might have been stormy at times again for Lynn, but of late he has gotten through to the other side.
He was at 99 pitches after five innings, but Molitor sent him back out for the sixth. It turned out to be one of his easiest innings, one of two in which he retired the side in order.
The Twins capitalized on another bit of good fortune, scoring four unearned runs off Trevor Bauer (4-4) in the sixth after second baseman Jason Kipnis booted a potential double-play ball.
That came after Lynn stretched out his arm for his longest outing of the season.
“He’s never been what you would say a total command guy,” Molitor said. “He’s always had that issue to some degree. I think it’s been a little bit exaggerated here, at least early. But the last three starts have been trending in a good way.”