Lyles dominated last night. Now what?

As you can imagine, there was quite a buzz in the cramped, closed quarters of the visitors clubhouse following Jordan Lyles’ fantastic Major League debut last night against the Cubs.

He didn’t get a decision — the win went to Fernando Rodriguez, the first of his big league career — but Lyles still accomplished plenty. He handled himself with the poise of a 10-year veteran and maintained his composure throughout the entire 92-pitch outing, even after he made a wild throw to third base that allowed the Cubs to tie the game in his final inning.

The 20-year-old Lyles is saddled with hype that has surrounded him since Spring Training, where he had virtually no chance to make the team but by the end of the exhibition season had put up the best numbers of any starting pitcher vying for a job.

Brad Mills had a simple greeting for Lyles when the right-hander arrived to Chicago: “You’re here for two starts or 20 years.” In other words, Lyles’ future is largely up to Lyles. How he performs in his next outing on Sunday in San Diego will obviously factor into the decision as to where he goes moving forward.

I’ve heard from some of you who are assuming that a ticket back to Oklahoma City is a guaranteed fate for Lyles when Wandy Rodriguez comes off the disabled list. That is most definitely not the case. If Lyles continues to show that he belongs here, he’ll stay.

Lyles didn’t record his first win, but he did get that first base hit out of the way — although judging from what I heard back on Twitter last night, along with some grumblings in the clubhouse post-game, the general consensus is that Lyles would have logged that first hit earlier, had the umpire not blown a call.

Regardless, Lyles walked away with plenty of door prizes last night — the official lineup card, the ball he used to throw his first pitch and the ball representing his first hit (pictured above).

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A lot of you were not very happy when Mills pulled Lyles from the game in the eighth inning after his errant throw to third. Mills was asked about it after the game and he explained that Lyles had already thrown 92 pitches, that he had gone to a full count on Geovany Soto, that he was starting to “grind.” and with a runner at second base, “I didn’t think we needed to do that right then.” Meaning, the kid had pitched well, he felt good about how he had performed, and he’d had enough, and it was time to get him out of there.

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The trip to Chicago and Wrigley Field is always a highlight of a long baseball season for players across baseball, but for one Astros pitcher, it also signifies a trip home. The question we posed for TwitterTuesday last night was: Which Astros player lives in Chicago in the offseason, and how many blocks does he live from Wrigley?

Answer: J.A. Happ, eight blocks.

Happ grew up in Peru, Illinois, approximately 90 miles from Chicago, and he attended Northwestern University. Chicago — more specifically, the house he owns in Lakeview, near Wrigleyville — is home to him.

“I used to live in that building,” Happ said in the dugout before Tuesday’s game, pointing to a tall building just beyond right-center field. Happ enjoys the area around Wrigley for the same reasons everyone else does: the cozy neighborhood atmosphere, the restaurants and the nightlife — surroundings he’s able to enjoy with the many friends from both high school and college who still live in the Windy City.

Happ grew up a Cubs fan, idolizing Ryne Sandberg while cheering for his team from the cheap seats.

“We’d take the ‘L,’” he said, referring to Chicago’s mass transit system, “And hop off on Addison and buy a $10 ticket.”

How times have changed. Presumably, the seats are better. On Monday, Happ left 43 tickets for friends and family.

Chicago is a wonderful, vibrant city, but the brutal winters can be a bear. Happ doesn’t mind it, though, noting that fall is his favorite time of the year.

He did admit, however, that things slow down considerably during the winter months.

“It’s almost like living in two different cities,” he said. “Nice weather, and not so nice weather.”

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Notes:

Jason Bourgeois is in Kissimmee for an extended spring tuneup before he moves onto Triple-A Oklahoma City to begin a rehab assignment. If all goes well the outfielder will take batting practice on Thursday and play Friday through Sunday.

Astros starting pitchers, entering Wednesday’s finale in Chicago, own a 2.63 ERA over their last 10 games at Wrigley Field.

The pitching matchups for the upcoming series in San Diego:

Thursday: Bud Norris (2-4, 3.76) vs. Tim Stauffer (1-3, 3.60)

Friday: J.A. Happ (3-6, 4.66) vs. Dustin Moseley (1-6, 3.18)

Saturday: Aneury Rodriguez (0-2, 5.40) vs. Aaron Harang (5-2, 3.88)

Sunday: Jordan Lyles (0-0, 2.57) vs. Mat Latos (3-6, 3.97)

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1 Comment

Curious as to whats on that bottom baseball in the first pic?

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