With beaded breath, Diamondbacks’ decision-makers were looking for something positive from right-hander Shelby Miller. Here’s their highly-prized, off-season acquisition struggling out of the gate, and to date, has little to show for the confidence the Diamondbacks have bestowed.
At the beginning of his start Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, his former team, Miller appeared to right his ship. His control was better than in previous starts, and he managed a first-pitch strike to three of the initial four hitters he faced. Allowing two runners through the opening three hitters, Miller seemed in control, and needed only 25 pitches for the first two innings.
Like his previous starts, walks began plague the right-hander, and that malady haunted Miller once again. Pitching into a scoreless fifth, Miller’s lack of control became a prominent factor in the final outcome. By the time of his exit after five innings, Miller surrendered five runs, all in the fifth, and the Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks, 8-2 before 19,074 in Chase Field.
The control factor clearly influenced Miller’s night. In the fifth, St. Louis shortstop Aledmys Diaz led off with a sharp single to center. After pitcher Carlos Martinez sacrificed Diaz to send, Miller walked lead-off hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker. After a run-producing double from Stephen Piscotty, Miller intentionally walked Matt Carpenter.
Then, the control, or lack thereof, haunted Miller. With the count at 2-1, Miller hung a change-up right down Broadway, and Brandon Moss, who went 4-for-5 on the night, connected for a three-run bomb. That effectively ended Miller’s night, and had the Houston native still looking for his first Arizona victory.
“I felt I made some good pitches, but it was a tough night,” Miller said. “Thought I made one bad pitch. and put that change over the plate. Overall, felt good, but I gave up five runs in five innings. It’s still a loss, and just have to get ready for the next one.”
If there was legitimate concern about Miller before his Tuesday start, some of the fears may have been allayed by an encouraging start. Miller kept his fast ball right around the knees and the ball around the plate. By the fourth inning, he allowed only one hit, and the opening innings was the most promising of his four starts to date. Then, the walk to Hazelbaker that set the table for Piscotty, and the hanging curve to Moss.
Despite the marginal outing, Miller’s effort was deemed encouraging. Lifting his season ERA to nearly nine runs her nine innings, there were some positives.
“This was a step forward for (Miller),” said manager Chip Hale. “His cutter was good and his motion was good. The ball came out of his hand smoothly and had a nice jump. I’m sure (Miller) is frustrated, but I thought he did a good job.”
In the meantime, the Diamondbacks could not solve Martinez, who give up three hits in eighth, shut-out innings. Against Cardinals’ reliever Tyler Lyons in the ninth, Jake Lamb and Yasmany Tomas smacked home runs, and the Diamondbacks averted being shut-out for the first time this season.
The series continues Wednesday night with an intriguing match-up. The Diamondbacks send left-hander Patrick Corbin (1-2, 3.51), who has been plagued by the home run ball, to the hill. Corbin draws right-hander Adam Wainwright, who is off to a difficult start. Winner of 121 games for St. Louis since he broke in during the 2005 season, Wainwright is 0-3 with a 7.25 ERA this season.
In the series finale Thursday night, righty Rubby De La Rosa (2-3, 5.84 ERA) gets the start for Arizona, and opposed by Cards’ righty Michael Wacha (2-0, 2,82). Then, the Colorado Rockies move in for a 3-game weekend series, and that closes the current home stand.