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Jordan Lyles, the youngest player in the Major Leagues, was denied his first big league victory Tuesday when the Astros bullpen coughed up its 15th blown save of the year, which is a Major League high. Lyles pitched well once again, allowing seven hits and three runs in seven innings in his fifth start.
The Astros led, 4-3, when Lyles left the game and the Rangers eventually won, 5-4, in extra innings on Mitch Moreland’s walk-off homer in the 11th. Lyles allowed solo homers to Michael Young in the second and Nelson Cruz in the fourth, and an RBI triple by Endy Chavez in the seventh.
Despite delivering his third quality start, Lyles had a hard time seeing beyond the Astros’ 14th loss in 18 games.
“First of all, we got a loss, so no, not really,” he said. “But I stayed away from crooked numbers. If I’m going to give them up [home runs], glad no one is on base. That was the positive side.
“The one to Michael I just left over the plate. Great hitter. Makes me pay for that and he did. The one to Cruz initially I didn’t think I got it down enough, but I saw the replay and it wasn’t too bad of a pitch, I think. It’s more of a good hitter putting a good swing on it.”
Astros manager Brad Mills was understandably impressed with his young pitcher.
“He did a great job,” he said. “I know he gave up a couple of home runs, but it was sure nice to see him jump right back in there after he gave up the home runs. A lot of young guys can kind of let that get to them, but he didn’t. He came right back after hitters and really did a good job through seven. He battled and kept his pitch count down and really gave us a chance to win the game.”
Lyles said the Rangers’ lineup posted his biggest challenge to date.
“It’s a great lineup,” he said. “By far the best I’ve seen. Just make sure you stay a little bit more focused than you would with a regular lineup because they’ll put up a four spot in no time. You can’t let up any time with any lineup, but this one will make you pay for it in short time. You’ve just got to stay a little bit more focused and just make your pitches and attack the lower half of the strike zone and hopefully they hit it at someone.”
In his previous start against the Pirates, Lyles allowed a three-run homer in the first inning and then retired 15 in a row. He said he came out determined to have a clean first inning.
“I wanted to attack the first inning and not go out there and feel my way through it,” he said. “I wanted to get ready in the bullpen and attack from strike zone, from the first batter.”
Lyles is relatively new to the Astros’ late-inning struggles, but he said all the right things post-game to reporters and showed poise.
“No one wants to lose,” he said. “Guys are going out there trying the best to get guys out, but sometimes it just doesn’t fall the way you want it to. Sometimes they don’t hit it at people. Just baseball, and we’ll bounce back. We’re not going to change anything we’ve been doing. I think we’ve been playing pretty good. Make a couple of pitches here, a couple of more extra hits and we can turn it around.”