Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 5/20/12
HOUSTON Don't call what Brandon Lyon managed on Saturday night against the Rangers a comeback. He's been optimally healthy for weeks. Lyon produced his ninth consecutive scoreless appearance at Minute Maid Park in the eighth inning, so in one sense what he delivered was par for the course. But the details of his latest outing provided a stark contrast to the progressive steps the Astros took with Lyon entering this season. If his scoreless string of seven appearances didn't capture the attention of Astros fans that lambasted Lyon throughout his struggles last season, the Houdini act of his eighth was impossible to ignore. In what could be considered his most white-knuckle hold of this season, Lyon preserved a one-run lead by retiring three consecutive batters with Rangers on base representing the tying and go-ahead runs. That the Astros managed to hold on for a 6-5 victory against the best team in baseball was in no small part related to Lyon and his ice-watered veins. "That's a veteran guy that's had playoff experience. He's been in big games like this," Astros catcher Chris Snyder said. "What you see out of Brandon is he's even-keeled no matter what the situation is. That's what makes him effective. And that was it right there for him: no panic, make your pitches, and you'll be all right. "When you've been in situations like that, the easier it gets. You're not worried about who you're (facing), all you're worried about is making your pitch, picking up the (catcher's) glove, locating it and making the pitch. That's what he did." Who Lyon faced with Michael Young and Brandon Snyder on base was no small detail. The Rangers (25-16) sent sluggers Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli to the plate, a pair of postseason heroes from their run to a second consecutive American League pennant in 2011. While there are no soft spots in the Rangers' order, Cruz and Napoli are particular lethal, especially with runners aboard. Given what Lyon endured on the field and off last season, this spot seemed like the ultimate test of his health. Before succumbing to season-ending shoulder surgery last June 30, an uncommon procedure that entailed Lyon having his detached right biceps reattached as well as a tear in his labrum repaired, Lyon was a focus of fan derision. The Astros were careening toward necessary rebuilding, and a scuffling reliever in the middle of a three-year, 15-million contract made for an obvious target of fans' boiling frustration. Over his final five outings last season, Lyon surrendered 12 earned runs in three innings. His ERA ballooned more than seven runs to 11.47. It was easy to remain skeptical of Lyon even as he racked up scoreless appearances this season. The Astros were cautious with how they utilized him, almost handpicking moments of minimal leverage in April. "We tried to bring him along to build up that arm strength, and definitely he's better," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He's been there for the last four or five outings. He's been nails, and he was nails again." Lyon had logged a pair of two-inning stints: at Washington on April 16, and last Tuesday in Philadelphia. He pitched in back-to-back-to-back games May 6-8. He'd been the picture of consistency, but the Rangers, with their stacked lineup of prolific hitters, proved a significant hurdle. Lyon induced Cruz to lift a weak fly ball to Brian Bogusevic in right for the first out. He almost escaped the inning when Napoli rolled into what initially appeared to be a 4-6-3 double play before second-base umpire Ted Barrett ruled that shortstop Jed Lowrie lost contact with the bag prior to recording the out. Instead of sitting in the dugout with the one-run lead intact, Lyon had to face pinch-hitter Craig Gentry with Young and Murphy in scoring position. He got Gentry to fly out to center field. Threat averted and eyes opened. Given how effectively he's pitched over the past several weeks, Lyon didn't view this appearance as validating. "I don't think it was a confirmation," Lyon (0-1, 1.76 ERA, 89.7 LOB) said. "I'm just going out there in any situation. Whenever the phone rings, they call my name to go out there to do the best I can. "Obviously when you're in a situation when you feel like you helped the team win you feel pretty good about it. But it wasn't any confirmation to make me feel like I'm back. I feel like I've been back for a while and I'm just going to go out there and keep doing what I can do." It didn't require rabbit ears to hear all the negativity spewed toward Lyon last season. And while Saturday night represented just another timely performance in a string of excellent ones for Lyon, it certainly confirmed Mills' trust in a right-hander whose career was on the brink. "I'm thrilled to death for him personally to be able to come back from something like that," Mills said. "To have the rough time that you remember from last year, and he comes back from that, get's that arm strength, and to pitch like he has has been great." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Eddie Lacy defends Mike McCarthy for weight loss comments

Red Sox nearly had serious catcher emergency in loss to Tigers

Ohio State DL Dylan Thompson ineligible for season

Roger Federer will miss Olympics, U.S. Open with knee injury

Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019


LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye releases first statement following car crash

Report: Brock Osweiler could have made more money staying with Broncos

Andrew Luck: Feels `as good as I've ever felt` for training camp

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Five NFL teams set to rise up in 2016

Jeremy Lin reportedly looking to trademark phrase ‘Brook-Lin’

Matt Leinart engaged to actress Josie Loren

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

Report: Paul Pierce to return to Clippers

Jimbo Fisher: You come to FSU to win national championships

Andre Johnson worked out for Tennessee Titans

Shattenkirk for Krejci trade rumor still floating around

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denies link to C.T.E.

Michael Vick: Cam Newton can’t beat me in 40-yard dash

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

Odell Beckham Jr. says Giants will play in Super Bowl LI

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker