Despite loss, dream debuts for Pena, Zastryzny

Despite loss, dream debuts for Pena, Zastryzny

DENVER -- Over the last three seasons, Cubs rookie left-hander Rob Zastryzny has only made one relief appearance.

It came in his first game in the Majors, a scoreless inning of relief in Friday's 11-inning, 7-6 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field. It wasn't what he dreamed, but it went better than he could have imagined.

"I just picture myself out there on the mound," Zastryzny said. "When I got to pro ball, I started imagining it at Wrigley Field as a starter and going through my pregame routine and what I would do. It didn't work out that way, but that was the most fun I've ever had in my entire life."

Right-hander Felix Peña, 26, and Zastryzny, 24, pitched scoreless ninth and 10th innings, respectively, in their Major League debuts. Zastryzny escaped a bases-loaded jam against the heart of the Rockies' lineup, and Peña pitched a clean inning with two strikeouts.

Pena's first career strikeout

"They really held their own well," manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought their composure was really good. I thought they made pitches when they had to, and they absolutely gave us a chance to win the game tonight."

Zastryzny could imagine his debut as much as he wanted, but the feeling of actually being out on the field was different.

"It was a weird feeling," Zastryzny said. "In the sixth or seventh inning, the phone rang, and as soon as it rang, I got a little shock through my entire body. 'Is it me?' It wasn't me, but as the game went on and it got closer, and the score got tied, and we went into extras, I found myself really wanting the ball.

"It was a fantastic feeling. I was jogging in and I couldn't help but hold back a little bit of a smile."

Zastryzny and Peña have played at every level of the Cubs' Minor League system together. For Zastryzny, making his debut with a teammate he'd known for so long calmed him.

"I was so happy for him," Zastryzny said. "He's one of the best teammates I've had. I feel like me and him are pretty close, and getting called up on the same day and flying together, it was honestly a dream come true. I didn't have to come up myself and have to worry about missing a taxi or a flight. I had Felix with me."

The pair also had the comfort of throwing to rookie catcher Willson Contreras, who was with them on the 2013 Kane County team. Contreras beat the pitchers to the Majors by two months but still has the familiarity with the duo.

"I felt very comfortable," Peña said through a translator. "I'm content that I'm pitching to a catcher that knows my stuff, that knows what I'm pitching, and I'm comfortable with him, and we're on the same page."

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.