Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 6/24/12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Lance Lynn had hoped Sunday's start against the Royals would be his first of two appearances at Kauffman Stadium in the next few weeks. But after allowing a season-high six earned runs in 5 13 innings in the Cardinals' 11-6 win over the Royals on a steamy Midwest afternoon, Lynn might soon be able to make other plans for the upcoming All-Star break. Hoping to make his first All-Star Game, Lynn has been touched for 11 earned runs in his past two starts and seen his ERA balloon from 2.42 to 3.23 in a span of five days. Despite a solid season filling in for the injured Chris Carpenter, Lynn's last two starts may be enough to drop him from consideration for the July 10 Midsummer Classic in Kansas City. "I'm giving up too many hits and too many runs, plain and simple," Lynn said. "I have to pitch better than I have the last two starts. They are just hitting my mistakes where as before I was getting away with them. I need to stop making so many mistakes and start making better pitches." Lynn had allowed more than three earned runs in just one of his 13 starts before this week. But he allowed a season high nine hits and five earned runs in just five innings Tuesday in Detroit to take just his third loss of the season. Five days later, things weren't much better on Sunday. Given a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch thanks to Carlos Beltran's 20th home run of the season, Lynn served up a no-doubt two-run blast to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas in the bottom of the first inning to make it 3-2. Staked to a 5-2 lead in the fourth, Lynn again couldn't keep Moustakas in the park. This time it was a solo shot to right, marking the first time Lynn had allowed multiple home runs in a game this year. But Jeff Francouer added to the home run party with a solo shot of his own two batters later, cutting the Cardinals lead to 5-4. After a single to Brayan Pena skimmed off Lynn's back and went into center field, an RBI triple from eighth place hitter Jarrod Dyson tied the game at 5. After allowing just five home runs in 14 starts coming in, Lynn was tagged for three home runs in the first four innings Sunday. The four extra-base hits were also a season high. "His stuff still looks right, but you're going to have days where you have to fight," said manager Mike Matheny. "Fortunately these guys scored a bunch of runs and kept the decision off of him. "It's a hard game. I don't think he was delusional and thinking he was just going to roll through this lead without some bumps. That's just part of the way this thing works." Lynn figured to be a late-inning reliever for the Cardinals heading into spring training after excelling as a reliever during his rookie year in 2011. But an unexpected injury to Carpenter changed the plans and forced Lynn into the rotation to start the year. The right-hander burst onto the scene by winning his first six starts and going 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA. He took his first loss on May 13, allowing more than two earned runs in a start for the first time in seven chances to start the year. But a loss on June 2 in New York despite allowing just two earned runs was the only other blemish on a near spotless resume for Lynn prior to this week. After throwing 7 13 scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox on June 13, Lynn was 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA. A trip to the All-Star Game in Kansas City was starting to seem more and more likely. That was, before a forgettable last two outings in which Lynn combined to allow 18 hits and 11 runs in 10 13 innings. He had a season-low two strikeouts Sunday. "They were both really bad," Lynn said. "The worst two starts of my career. I have to do better next time out." There could be plenty of reasons for the recent struggles. It could just be a rough patch within a long season. Or it could be the grueling innings of a long season catching up to him after spending much of last season in the bullpen. Lynn has pitched 92 innings this season and is on pace to surpass the 200 innings mark despite never throwing more than 164 innings in a season. Last year he threw just 110 innings last season between Triple-A and the big leagues. He's just 18 innings away from surpassing last year's total, a number worth watching as the season progresses. "That's always going to be the first thing everybody goes to," Matheny said. "We just watch him. To me, mechanically he looks the same. He's just making a few mistakes. This is a pretty tough league. These guys will make you pay if you make too many. "Certainly there's no reason to start panicking. It's way too early. That's even crazy to say. The guy is right there to me, an All-Star, so he's just had a couple games here where he wasn't as consistent, but what pitcher hasn't gone through that?" Lynn earned a no decision Sunday and is 10-3 with a 3.23 ERA. He's had an impressive season, one that the Cardinals couldn't have expected when they called upon him to move into the rotation. Despite Matheny's endorsement as an All-Star, the impressive list of pitchers in the National League this year will probably keep Lynn from hearing his name called when the teams are announced on July 1. And a rough two starts could be the reason why.
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