After Lilly walked Burlington leadoff man Hilton Richardson to start the game, he struck out the next batter before giving up a long triple to catcher Wil Myers on a first-pitch fastball that Myers stroked over speedy center fielder Jose Valdez’s head for a 1-0 Bees lead.
Lilly would begin to settle in, however, striking out the next two batters. He threw 21 pitches in the first inning, 11 strikes.
“My command, at times, I struggled with it, but for the most part I was throwing the ball all right,” Lilly said. “I mixed in my changeup a little more than I have so that was good.”
After the first, it all seemed to come easy for the veteran left-hander. He popped the mitt for 14 strikes on 14 pitches in the second inning and added his fourth strikeout.
The third went just as easily as Lilly set the Bees down quietly on only 11 pitches.
Lilly would put the Bees down in order in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, striking out the side in the sixth.
Lilly did not forget to bring his bat to Peoria, either, ripping a single up the middle his first time up. Swinging the bat was not expected by most in attendance. It was Lilly’s idea all the way.
“I definitely wanted to see some pitching. I wanted the chance to work on it,” he explained.
He would walk in his second and final plate appearance in the fifth.
Overall, Lilly would pitch seven innings, allowing one run on three hits as Peoria defeated Burlington, 2-1. He struck out nine Bees while walking just one.
Lilly finished with 88 pitches, 62 strikes.
“I definitely did not want to throw more than 90 pitches after only throwing 51 last time out,” Lilly said.
Lilly said he wished he was with the big league team as they face the Mets in New York, but he said he enjoyed reliving his minor league days.
“You never forget those memories. It’s neat to come back. I enjoy that,” Lilly said.
The 34-year-old even treated his teammates for a day with steak and lobster post-game dinners.
Lilly was asked if he thought he would make his first start of the year this weekend against Milwaukee.
“That’s the plan,” Lilly said.