Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 4/8/12
MILWAUKEE Mike Matheny held out hope as long as he could that pitcher Chris Carpenter would be healthy enough to return to the St. Louis rotation by Opening Day. When it became clear during spring training that Carpenter would miss extended time into the regular season, Matheny, the Cardinals manager, had no choice but to call for a backup plan. As backup plans go, he can do a lot worse than Lance Lynn. Lynn made his first start of the season Sunday and stymied the Milwaukee Brewers, as St. Louis rolled to a 9-3 victory in the rubber match of a three-game series at Miller Park. Lynn lasted 6 23 innings and allowed one run on two hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. Considering that Lynn entered spring camp expecting to be a reliever and had started just two major league games, his performance was all the more impressive. "He's just tough," Matheny said. "He's tough mentally. He's tough physically. He's a workhorse. He goes out there and he's got the arm and the body that can take that kind of heavy workload. That's going to play good for him in the future. You just never know what you're going to get that first outing." What the Cardinals got was a gem of an outing from Lynn against a Brewers lineup that lacked pop for the second time in three games. And more performances like the one on Sunday could spell trouble for the rest of the National League Central because St. Louis (3-1), the defending World Series champion, hasn't skipped a beat in 2012 without one of its go-to pitchers. Carpenter, a stalwart in the Cardinals rotation since 2004 and a former Cy Young Award winner, has been sidelined this season with a nerve ailment in his throwing shoulder. He hasn't faced live hitters since throwing batting practice March 3. Lynn, meanwhile, had appeared in only 18 major league games during the regular season, with 16 coming in relief. But he also pitched under the toughest of circumstances out of the bullpen last season, making 10 postseason appearances for the Cardinals on the way to a World Series title. Five of those games came against the Brewers in the NLCS, when he didn't allow a run in 5-13 innings pitched. In other words, an early-season start against these same Brewers hardly fazed him. "I've started my whole life," Lynn said. "Relieving was fun and I enjoyed it because I got to pitch in a lot of big situations and big games. That's always fun. As a competitor, you enjoy those situations and enjoy those challenges. This is a new challenge and I've just got to keep preparing myself in between starts and doing what I have to do to keep moving forward."> On Sunday, Lynn's only slip was allowing a solo home run to Brewers right fielder Corey Hart, who launched his third long ball of the season. Lynn's day ended when he walked Aramis Ramirez with two outs in the seventh inning. With his pitch count at 100, Matheny pulled him for a reliever. The effectiveness of Lynn amazed even the Brewers. "I was surprised that somebody can transition from the bullpen to a starter and maintain his stuff," Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said. "His velocity was consistently in the mid-90s. He had really good command of his fastball both sides of the plate. Last year, he didn't throw many of his slider-cutter pitch, whatever he was throwing today. And he really threw that pitch well today, too. I was impressed." Lynn's emergence could go a long way toward helping to keep the Cardinals the class of the NL Central. Fellow starters Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright pitched well in their season debuts, and Jake Westbrook opens his season Monday against Cincinnati. It's still early in the season, but Milwaukee (1-2) showed it will have to play awfully well to surpass St. Louis for a second straight season. Last year, the Brewers won a club record 96 games to edge the Cardinals by six games in the standings. But St. Louis defeated Milwaukee 4-2 in the NLCS on the way to a World Series title. While Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke showed his Cy Young Award form in a victory on Saturday, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf weren't sharp against the Cardinals. Neither was the hitting in two of three games. Of course, the Cardinals pitching staff had a lot to do with that. "I just think the confidence that all these guys took out of the postseason last year -- that 'I can do this and it's not going to get any more intense than the World Series and the playoffs down the stretch' -- it tells you something about yourself," Matheny said. "And I think those guys have all taken that into the games and it's made them all better." The results have left the Brewers already playing catch-up in the NL Central. Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Reds’ Joey Votto shuts down heckler with “I remember when you used to be thin”

Rob Gronkowski gets new contract, chance to double salary

Padres offering $99 ticket plan for five June wins or 16 June games – whatever happens first

Former Jets WR Devin Smith found out he was cut via Twitter

Roger Goodell tweets ‘Key & Peele’ joke about relaxed celebration rules

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Martavis Bryant: ‘I know this is my last chance’

Glennon: ‘This is my year and I’m not worried about the future’

Durant apologizes for response to fans complaining about blowouts

Sheldon Richardson says Jets locker room is better without Brandon Marshall

What's next for the Spurs?

Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker