Tyler Lyons returned to Triple-A Memphis this week after making his Major League debut and sticking around for six starts. The results were mixed -- "I had some good outings … and I had some bad outings."
Back for his first Minor League start since May 17, the left-hander had arguably the best outing of his professional career, allowing one hit and facing the minimum over seven innings as the Redbirds one-hit the Iowa Cubs in a 7-0 victory Tuesday.
Lyons struck out four and didn't walk a batter. And afterward, he ranked the outing up there with a seven-inning no-hitter he threw for Class A Advanced Palm Beach in 2011. He walked one batter in that game, facing one over the minimum.
The Oklahoma State product was optioned back to Triple-A over the weekend after going 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA in six Major League starts. The 25-year-old struck out 21 and walked 11 in 32 2/3 innings, allowing three home runs and a .248 batting average against.
Some of his Major League outings were quite good, like when he held San Diego to four hits and one run over seven innings in his debut May 22. He followed that by keeping Kansas City to two hits and an earned run over seven innings May 28, but then allowed four or more earned runs in each of his final four starts. The Cardinals sent him down after he was tagged for four earned runs on three hits over just 1 2/3 innings against Texas on June 21.
"It was obvious to me what the difference was in those outings," Lyons said. "Mostly, it was fastball command and getting ahead in counts. For me, coming back down, that's the thing I want to work on.
"The main thing today was trying to do what I knew would help me be successful in the big leagues and that was command, using the fastball to get ahead."
The left-hander allowed a single to Jae-Hoon Ha with one out in the first inning, and Ha was the last hitter to reach safely. After retiring Donnie Murphy on a flyout to center, Lyons picked Ha off at first base and Memphis caught him in a 1-3-4-3-6 rundown.
Lyons sailed smoothly from there, retiring 18 straight to complete the gem.
"It was just the ability to locate the fastball, for sure, and throw the other three pitches [change-up, slider, curveball] for strikes," he said. "I was controlling the count, getting ahead."
Lyons said the keys to working ahead are both physical and mental.
"I think you don't want to get out there and get all mechanical, but you want to repeat your mechanics and delivery and all that good stuff," he said. "It's just about attacking hitters and not getting too fine with things. Just keep going after guys."
With his fastball spotting up to both sides of the plate and all three of his off-speed offerings working, the Redbird effectively kept the Cubs off-kilter Tuesday.
"I used the whole repertoire," he said. "That's where [catcher Travis] Taramella gets a lot of credit. I don't think we pitched to anybody the same way twice."
Mitchell Boggs relieved Lyons -- who threw just 71 pitches -- for the eighth inning and struck out one while posting a perfect frame. Deryk Hooker set down the side in order in the ninth.
The one-hitter was the fifth in club history and the first since Chris Narveson, Matt Ginter and Troy Cate combined to limit Sacramento in a 1-0 win on July 26, 2007 at AutoZone Park.
St. Louis' No. 3 prospect Kolten Wong went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Adron Chambers was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs from the leadoff spot.