Bad result no roadblock in Miller's return

Lefty allowed a run on two doubles in third outing since activation

Alex Hooper
September 15, 2018 - 12:08 am
Sep 10, 2018; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller (24) at Tropicana Field.

© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Without lefty reliever Andrew Miller at his best, the Cleveland Indians likely do not have much of a chance at a World Series title.

It is a sentiment that applies to as many as six players on the team’s upcoming 25-man playoff roster, but perhaps no more than in the case of the southpaw.

Something that can also be said about a number of players on the roster also applies to Miller: he is running out of time to get to full form, but it appears that is happening.

Miller allowed the go-ahead run in a 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Friday, eliciting multiple versions of the same ‘so much for being 100 percent!!!’ tweets from fans. Luckily for the Indians and their fans, things were trending more towards the positive than the results of the 7th inning indicated.

With a runner already on second, inherited from righty Adam Cimber, Miller piped a first-pitch fastball to Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario that was rapped down the third base line to give the Tigers the lead.

Left fielder Christin Stewart saw four sliders, whiffing on one, before smacking another fastball to Francisco Lindor for a fielder’s choice. In some sort of karmic reprieve for Detroit, Victor Martinez doubled to center on a perfectly placed slider on the outside corner, scoring another run.

All things considered, Miller looked sharp, getting three whiffs in total, all on sliders that broke fully across the plate, glove-side.

He will never be able to take back a mistake pitch that is punished, so simply dismissing them does not tell his whole story. Considering where Miller was a week ago, and where he has gone since, it becomes easier to be optimistic about a season that has driven nothing but the contrary.

“Once he got into the inning, I thought his stuff was the same as before: touching 94, good breaking ball. I thought he left a couple pitches up and it’s still, that’s his third outing and you know I know he doesn’t like giving up runs, I don’t like when anybody gives up runs, but he’s going in the right direction.”

Before the outing even happened, Francona gave a positive update on Miller, saying that he feels he can deploy the 33-year-old on consecutive days once again. That being said, due to throwing an above-average 24 pitches on Friday, that consecutive day will not happen on Saturday.

“We talk to him every day, we talk the medical staff every day,” Francona added. “It’s funny because you’re at the point in the season, you’re trying to kind of cut back on some of the guys and you’re trying to build him up. So, we’re trying to do a number of things.”

The skipper was hopeful he could get Miller back on the mound Sunday in the series finale.

Entering play on Friday, Miller had allowed one hit over two innings, striking out four since returning from the disabled list.

Uno

The Indians failed to reduce their magic number to clinch the American League Central against the Tigers, leaving it at two as they left Progressive Field.

That number dropped to one by the end of the night as the Minnesota Twins lost on a walk-off grand slam by Kansas City Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez.