By Joe Scalzo
In June, when Phil Klein was pitching in Double-A and was in the midst of a scoreless inning streak that still hasn’t stopped, he was asked about getting called up to the major leagues.
“I really try not to think about that,” he said. “Maybe at some point this season, but who knows?”
On Friday, “some point” arrived. Klein, a former standout for Youngstown State, was promoted by the Texas Rangers after dominating hitters at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.
He made his major league debut against the Indians in the sixth inning at Progressive Field. The first batter he faced was Lonnie Chisenall who homered to give Cleveland a 12-1 lead.
In the inning, Klein struck out Ryan Rayburn, hit Tyler Holt with a pitch and commited a balk.
The homer snapped Klein’s scoreless streak of 35 innings. The 6-foot-7 had not allowed a run in his 181/3 innings at Round Rock, and was 3-0 with a 0.52 ERA this summer. He hadn’t given up a run since May 8 and had struck out 70 in 512/3 innings with the two teams, giving up just 22 hits and 20 walks.
Klein, a 30th round pick of the 2011 draft, is the first Penguin to play in the major leagues since Justin Thomas, who briefly pitched for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees in 2012.
Klein was the 16th rookie used this season by the Rangers (43-66) who have the worst record in the major leagues at 43-65.
Klein grew up near Columbus and attended Gahanna Lincoln High School. He was a second team all-Horizon League selection as a senior at YSU in 2011 and finished his four-year career second in school history in strikeouts (258) and sixth in innings pitched (252).