Right-hander Jordan Lyles could not be stopped on either side of the dish Monday night.
"Robin Ventura looking at the lineup card saying, 'Did they sneak a DH in there?' "
Ah, good-natured interleague ribbing. And that was before Lyles produced two singles (along with a second RBI) to go 3 for 3 on the night, complementing his splendid pitching in an 8-1 victory at Coors Field. Lyles came into the game 9 for 85 with a home run and a double for his career, mostly for the Houston Astros, so he had something of a clue at the plate. But he never had more than one hit in any game.
And then there was Lyles's ERA — well over 5.00 in each of his first three seasons. Ventura might have wondered if the Rockies also sneaked a pitcher onto the lineup card, because Lyles allowed one run, five hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings. What a night.
While going 3 for 3 makes for great theater and certainly helps at Coors Field, it was Lyles's pitching performance that was the most encouraging to the Rockies. A top prospect at one time with the Astros, Lyles has needed to show his worthiness on a major league mound.
Thomas Harding at MLB.com writes that Lyles still might be ticketed for the minors once Tyler Chatwood comes back from the disabled list — but he's giving the Rockies something to think about in the meantime:
Lyles (2-0) said he didn't have a feel for his fastball early in the game, but he went to breaking and offspeed pitches early in counts. The sinking fastball -- a pitch he and pitching coach Jim Wright worked on diligently this offseason -- ended up his put-away pitch. He ended with 10 groundouts.
"A lot of people say you can't throw the breaking ball here," Lyles said. "That was my mindset coming into the game. I really wanted to spin it. For the most part, it was pretty good. I got a couple of punchouts later in the game with it."
Lyles, who was supposed to start the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, will give manager Walt Weiss a tough decision to make on April 13, when Tyler Chatwood returns from the left hamstring strain that gave Lyles his chance.
"It was the Jordan Lyles show tonight," Weiss said. "He's been impressive. It was a tough situation he was in at the end of Spring Training. He pitched well this spring. He came right back to us. He's 2-0. It says a lot about the guy."
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