Sunday roundup: young Lyles gets the call, Pence extends his streak, and pictures from Ford Focus Social Media Night.
Many Major League players have debuted at Wrigley Field over the years, so count Jordan Lyles as just one of a long list of rookies whose first exposure to the big leagues will be in Chicago, at one of the game’s most historic ballparks.
Lyles will join the Astros here on Monday, and judging from how quiet the right-hander was during Spring Training — he said barely a peep the entire time — I’m guessing he won’t let on as to if he’s overly excited, or jubilant, or petrified, or some combination of all three.
In some ways, this is nothing out of the ordinary — a veteran pitcher, in this case Wandy Rodriguez, got hurt, and the club summoned its top pitching prospect to fill the roster spot. Teams do this all the time. But in Lyles’ case, there is reason for a little extra hype — he’s young. Really, really young. Lyles is 20 years old, born Oct. 19, 1990. That makes him not old enough to do a few things, like rent a car. Or enjoy a nice cool refreshing adult beverage.
He is, however, old enough to pitch professionally, and on Tuesday, just shy of three years since becoming the Astros’ No. 1 draft pick, he’ll make his debut. Most of you probably remember that Lyles was the club’s best performer during Spring Training, but that he was edged out by Nelson Figueroa. Lyles spent the first two months of the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he started off a little rocky but has had a nice run in his last seven outings, going 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA.
When he throws his first pitch Tuesday night, he’ll be the fourth youngest pitcher to start a game for the Astros. Jay Dahl was 17 when he debuted on Sept. 27, 1963, followed by Larry Dierker, who made his first big league start on his 18th birthday — Sept. 22, 1946. Next is Chris Zachary, 19 years old when he debuted on June 23, 1963. Jeff Juden was 20 when he started for the first time on Sept. 21, 1991.
Lyles will face the excitable Carlos Zambrano in the only game of the three at Wrigley that will be played at night. This should be an interesting and entertaining few hours. If Lyles ends up with his first big league win, here’s hoping his teammates take him out for a tall, cold…Mountain Dew.
Postgame notes from Sunday’s game:
J.A. Happ has had seven solid starts in a row, even if he’s not seeing results in the win-loss column. The left-hander has posted a 3.35 ERA, allowing 15 earned runs over 40 innings.
Hunter Pence carries a 10-game hitting streak into the opener at Wrigley. Since May 17, Pence is hitting .380 with one homer and seven RBIs. This is Pence’s second double-digit hit streak of the 2011 season.
Thanks to everyone who attended our Social Media Night, presented by Ford Focus, on Saturday. We had a great group, as usual, and we gave away a ton of loot during our Twitter Trivia contest. Special thanks to Chris Johnson (@cjastros23) for joining us and helping hand out the door prizes.
Our next Social Media Night, presented by Ford Focus, will be June 25. We’ll announce the special guest soon. The program will be the same — ballpark tour, batting practice viewing behind the Astros’ dugout, dinner, t-shirt, trivia contests and a seat in the Budweiser Patio, all for just $45.
Images from Saturday’s event:
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