Apr 8, 2014 12:19 AM by Posted by Greg Smith
DENVER -- Rockies righty Jordan Lyles discovered Monday night, as many pitchers before him, that Coors Field is a great place to hit.
But unlike many hurlers who learned nothing else, Lyles showed that it can be a pretty good place to pitch, if you keep the ball down. Lyles held the White Sox to five hits and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings while leading the Rockies to a 8-1 victory at Coors Field in front of 22,550 fans.
Lyles (2-0) wasn't the only reason the Rockies pulled their record to 4-4. The Rockies totaled nine hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings against former Rockies righty Felipe Paulino (0-1). One of the hits was Carlos Gonzalez's third homer, a first-inning, line-drive solo shot. Troy Tulowitzki homered for the first time, off reliever Daniel Webb to open the sixth, and singled, doubled and walked.
Acquired from the Astros in late November, Lyles had thrown just once at Coors. He gave up six hits and five runs -- one on a first-inning leadoff homer by Dexter Fowler, the man for whom he was traded -- and didn't figure in the decision in a 7-6 Rockies victory on May 28, 2012. His first time pitching for the Rockies at Coors was way more memorable.
Lyles doubled in a first-inning run and added singles in the fourth and fifth. The latter hit drove in a run to greet Webb during a three-run frame that pushed his lead to 6-0.
As for his main job, Lyles was even better. He didn't yield a hit until Marcus Semien's one-out single in the fourth. The run didn't score until two were out in the seventh, on Alexei Ramirez's double. Lyles used breaking and offspeed stuff to set up his sinking fastball -- a pitch he and pitching coach Jim Wright worked to perfect in Spring Training -- and ended with 10 groundouts.
Also, Lyles, at 23 but in his fourth Major League season, crossed a couple of thresholds. Through his first 73 career starts, Lyles, known for seeing decent outings ruined by one blow-up inning, carried a 10.12 ERA in the fifth inning and a 6.08 mark in the sixth.
In each of those troublesome innings on Monday, he gave up a leadoff hit. But he struck out two and forced a grounder to end the fifth. After Dayan Viciedo's leadoff double in the sixth, Lyles forced three straight grounders, with Tulowitzki making his patented leaping and twisting throw to beat Jose Abreu for the final out.
With Lyles' pitching and steady offense, the Rockies didn't even need hits from reigning National League co-Player of the Week Charlie Blackmon (with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez), who went 0-for-4 but drove in a run on a sactifice fly in the fifth.
Lyles originally was slated to begin the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but replaced Tyler Chatwood (left hamstring strain). Chatwood is expected back April 13, but Lyles is making a case to stay in the rotation.