Pitcher Lance Lynn and second baseman Kolten Wong deservedly received most of the credit Sunday night for the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2-1 victory over Detroit.
But reliever Seth Maness made one of the biggest pitches of the game in the eighth when he induced a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of J.D. Martinez to get the Cardinals (25-12) out of a ticklish situation.
“I’m just trying to get some outs. Just trying to work ahead and force some weak contact, whoever it might be (against),” said Maness, a ground-ball specialist who relieved Lynn with runners at first and second with one out. “That was huge; we really needed that for the bullpen, too.”
Maness has recorded 31 double plays since the start of the 2013 season, more than any other reliever in the game during that span.
“That’s where he’s been so big,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “When we get into a big situation like we were right there, we know he’s a guy who can get us out of it. Once again, he comes up big. ... He hasn’t had the results that he’s wanted lately, so hopefully this is something to build off of and he can keep doing what he’s been do good at doing.”
Lynn (3-3) expended 119 pitches to get through 7 1/3 innings. He allowed one run (earned) on six hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts, and was up on the dugout rail when Maness when the Cardinals completed the big double play against Martinez.
“That was big – one of the biggest pitches of the game,” said Lynn, who had just walked Ian Kinsler and the best hitter in the game, Miguel Cabrera. “You walk two guys and then you’ve got the four-hole hitter and (Maness) was able to get the double-play ball and end the inning right there to get it to our closer (Trevor Rosenthal). It was huge.
“That’s kind of why (Maness) is here.”
Maness, the quickest worker by a wide margin on the Cardinals’ staff, was happy to help, not just for his own mental health, but especially for Lynn.
“Just to see him out there battling, I think he gets better when he gets over 100 pitches. He really locks it in,” Maness said. “I’ve been able to watch him over the last couple of years, and around 100 pitches, it seems like he gets a little stronger.”
Lynn, who added an RBI single, won’t argue with Maness’ observation.
“I’ve been telling people for years there’s no need to have a pitch count on me. It’s pointless,” Lynn said.
Wong, meanwhile, clubbed his fifth home run of the season in the sixth on the first pitch he saw from Alfredo Simon, breaking a 1-1 tie. Wong’s drive carried 434 feet to the seats in right.
“I just kind of had an idea what was coming,” Wong said. “He attacked (Matt Carpenter), (Jason) Heyward and Big City (Matt Adams) the same way. He came early with a fastball and started going with a splitter later. He didn’t show me a single fastball my first two at-bats, so I kind of went up there and was guessing for a fastball.”
The win was No. 300 for Matheny, in his fourth season.
“I guess I haven’t really thought about 300 wins and what that means,” Matheny said. “I’m fortunate for each one and I appreciate every win we get as a club. The longer I hang around, I’m fine with that.”