Lance Lynn wins over the Chicago White Sox and their fans, tossing the 1st shutout in a home opener in 45 years: ‘That’s about as good as you’re going to get’

LaMond Pope, Chicago Tribune
·3 min read

Lance Lynn is known for eating up innings.

The right-hander led the American League in innings pitched in 2020 with the Texas Rangers. And he has three seasons of at least 200 innings in his career while with the St. Louis Cardinals and Rangers.

Does Lynn enter every start expecting he will go the distance?

“I would say yes, but I only have four complete games, so that would be a lie,” Lynn said Thursday. “But pitch-count wise and going deep into games, that’s what I try to do — give the team a chance to win and keep the bullpen out of it for as long as I can and then let them do their thing.”

The Sox bullpen took the day off Thursday. Lynn tossed a five-hit shutout in a 6-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals in the home opener at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Lynn had to wait an extra two hours to go to work because of a rain delay. He then made quick work of the Royals, striking out 11 without surrendering a walk in the 111-pitch outing.

Lynn has pitched in the World Series, and while nothing tops that experience, he acknowledged the uniqueness of Thursday’s performance.

“When you look at a complete-game shutout, it’s hard to say you pitched better,” Lynn said. “I pitched on stages that were a little bigger, but you look at it and I had double-digit strikeouts, no walks, complete game, that’s about as good as you’re going to get.”

According to Baseball Reference, Lynn is the ninth player in Sox history to pitch a shutout with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. He’s the first to do it since Lucas Giolito on Aug. 21, 2019, against the Minnesota Twins. Giolito struck out 12 in the 4-0 victory.

The start of Thursday’s game was delayed 2 hours, 12 minutes because of rain. Lynn disposed of the Royals in 2 hours, 48 minutes.

It was the first complete game of the 2021 MLB season.

“It’s awesome to get the first one,” Lynn said. “They scored some runs and I was able to put it on cruise control. Being the first one, that’s awesome, but I’m glad I was able to do it here at home, the first home game of the season, that was the most exciting part of all.”

The Sox acquired Lynn in a trade from the Rangers in the offseason after he finished sixth in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2020. Lynn has allowed two unearned runs on 11 hits in 13⅔ innings over two starts, with 17 strikeouts and two walks.

“I had the opportunity to see him early,” said Tony La Russa, who managed Lynn as a rookie in 2011 with the Cardinals. “He always had talent and (was) a pitch maker and he had life in his arm, really competitive. And now where he’s at, he’s experienced.”

Lynn has four career complete games and two shutouts. He recorded the first complete game in a Sox home opener since Britt Burns on April 19, 1985, against the Boston Red Sox and the first shutout since Wilbur Wood on April 9, 1976, against the Royals.

The 11 strikeouts are the second-most by a Sox starting pitcher in a home opener. Edwin Jackson struck out 13 in 2011.

Lynn is confident his night was just the beginning for the rotation as a whole.

“(The) starters, our first time and a half through the rotation, we haven’t done what we’re expected to do and feel that we’re capable of,” Lynn said. “So we’ve been talking about it. And now it’s in their court. I started it.”