Wild pitches out of character for Lyon
Tigers reliever's errant 10th costly after strong ninth
DETROIT -- Brandon Lyon's early-season problems were balls over the fence, not in the dirt. Wild pitches were never his problem this year.
He was at a loss to explain how it became a problem Tuesday afternoon.
"Sometimes it happens," Lyon said after Tuesday's 3-2, 10-inning loss in the front end of a day-night doubleheader against the Twins. "Obviously, you don't want to do it, especially in that situation, but it happens. Once it happens, you just try to pitch out of that situation. My focus is still the same, to be aggressive and try to make quality pitches. I didn't really make too many quality pitches in situations I needed to tonight."
Lyon's pitching in the ninth had helped the Tigers get to extra innings. His high fastball on a call from catcher Gerald Laird thwarted a sacrifice bunt attempt from Nick Punto, who popped up the ball in front of the mound. Lyon caught it, then waited for Brandon Inge to break for third before firing to double off Alexi Casilla and end Minnesota's threat.
With the heart of the Twins' order coming up in the 10th, manager Ron Gardenhire wasn't looking to bunt over Denard Span following his leadoff single. Lyon, in turn, wasn't preoccupied with the speedy Span, despite his 22 stolen bases in 32 attempts this year.
Once Lyon threw back-to-back pitches in the dirt, the Twins merely had to move Span home when Orlando Cabrera lined Lyon's next pitch to left.
The first wild pitch was an inside fastball that Lyon said he got too low. Span took second once the pitch skipped off Laird's pad and back to the third-base side of home plate.
"It's tough anytime for a catcher to try to block a ball like that when it's a fastball in the dirt," Lyon said. "Gerald has been doing such a great job back there, you feel comfortable throwing anything in any situation."
The next pitch was a slider that skipped past Laird's right side, allowing Span to take third.
"I don't know. I went out there and just didn't make pitches tonight," Lyon said. "I usually have better control than I did today. I didn't really take control out there."
Lyon had such good control, in fact, that he had one wild pitch all season entering Tuesday. He had one all of last season, too, with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had nine over the course of his eight-year Major League career until Tuesday.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.