After a successful return to the Hill for the 2008 season, Adam Miller will look to build off of what should have been a nice win. Without the errors and a little bit better fielding, I believe Miller would have made it through 6 innings without issue.
Let's take a walk through Adam's first start of the season using MiLB's Gameday.
Miller went 5 innings sticking to around the pitch count that Torey Lovullo suggested he would be at. Although I imagine had things went a little bit better for Miller, in terms of luck, he would have went on for a another 5 to 10 pitches. And as I mentioned, should have been able to make it through 6 innings, it not more.
The MiLB Gameday is not as detailed as MLB's, however it does give us a good impression of what the hitters were seeing and how the pitcher either tricked the hitters or was very predictable.
In the 1st inning, Adam Miller struck out Brett Gardner, the first hitter he faced in the season on a 4th pitch swinging strike. It was a pitch that was on the outside edge of the plate. The second batter Miller faced was Bernie Castro who walked on seven pitches, then moved to second on a passed ball. Castro fouled off three pitches as Miller worked mostly on the outside edge of the plate. Juan Miranda moved Castro from 2nd to 3rd as he grounds out in what would have been an inning ending double play (according to the Buffalo radio announcers). During this at bat Miller missed outside with his first two pitches, followed by a swinging strike inside. He hit his spot with pitch four on a called strike and and on pitch number five he left it over the plate a little bit where Miranda hit the ball to first. Shelly Duncan then managed to single in Castro looping an Adam Miller slider down the left field line. Miller was actually lucky to only allow a single as the slider went right down the middle of the plate. Miller was able to get out of the inning without allowing an earned run when Jason Lane grounded out to first; this, after he swung and missed on two fastballs. The first of which was out of the zone. Not a bad first inning, 2 strikeouts, a walk, a hit and an unearned run.
For the 2nd inning, Miller was working with a nice lead and seemed to be pitching, instead of throwing. While he still had issues hitting the outside edge of the plate, he did enough to get through the inning in order on only 10 pitches (7 strikes), zero of which were called strikes or swinging strikes. First basemen Eric Duncan was the first to the plate and Miller followed the scouting report keeping the ball away. Duncan ended up pulling the forth pitch he saw to second base for an easy ground out. Journeyman Nick Green was next to the plate and Miller made quick work of him, keeping the ball outside and getting a fly out to the opposite way in right field. Miller cannot be happy with his pitch selection against Greg Porter, however he did get him to ground out to short on 4 pitches (2 in the zone fouls).
Miller entered the 3rd inning with yet another run, but was not as sharp as he was in the second, allowing a hit and a walk. 32 pitches into his first start seems a little early to struggle, but since Miller made it out of the inning fine, it is nothing to worry about. Catcher Chris Stewart got onto first with a line drive up the middle. Stewart also took two called strikes, which were pitches that were low and in the zone, I'm guessing one of the two was Miller's signature slide piece. Brett Gardner saw four pitches, each of which were outside. Pitch one and two were perfectly placed pitches with pitch three being an obvious 'chase' pitch. Miller then missed his spot a little, but Gardner flew out to left center. Castro then worked a seven pitch at bat for a walk, he took pitch two and three for called strikes on the outside, probably a good idea given the pitch location. Pitch five and seven look to be very close pitches, low and right down the middle. With two on and one out, Miller faced his biggest test to date (image left). A nine pitch at bat which involved two swinging strikes and two pitches down the middle that were fouled off. Miller got by on his stuff during this battle, good to see from a guy coming back from an injury. Miller continued to show his ability to pitch, working both the inside and outside of the plate. It still appears as if he is struggling with location, but getting Duncan to ground out on six pitches (with an in the zone swinging strike) ended the inning.
A 32 pitch inning put Miller at 64 entering the forth inning, in what I would have expected to be a rough one given the quick fashion the Bisons went down in for their half of the inning. However, a three pitch at bat to Lane with a perfectly place inside strike two. Eric Duncan sat down after four pitches and a pop up to third base. Miller tried to go high-low during this pitch sequence (image right). Miller again made quick work of Nick Green getting him to ground out to third on two pitches, an in the zone foul and an away pulled ground out.
Miller entered the 5th inning with 73 pitches thrown, 45 being for strikes. A nice ratio, but nothing spectacular given all of the foul balls that were hit. For this inning, the Yankees did the exact opposite of what I would have suggested to do to a pitcher approaching his pitch count in his first start back, they were aggressive. Porter put a ball in play after two pitches, both pitches in the zone on the outside edge. Stewart reached on an error by Miller, who was trying to throw out Porter at second in what would have been a double play. Gardner fouled off two pitches outside and the third one he popped out to left field. In what should have been the last out of the inning, or even an inning ending double play, Castro moved the Porter to third while sacrificing Stewart at second. Another quick two pitch at bat, where Miller worked away for a called strike, then missing a little and coming a little over the plate. In essentially the same pitch as the one Castro hit to third, Miller missed in what Miranda lined for a double which scored two, bringing the Bison lead down to one and forcing pitching coach Scott Radinski to the mound. Leaving Miller in provided to be the right choice as he got Duncan to ground out to short stop ending the threat on two pitches.
Overall, a nice debut for Miller where he threw 65% of his pitches for strikes. Miller owned an adequate ground out ratio of 47%. As I mentioned, with proper fielding, Miller should have made it through at least 6 innings, which would have allowed the Bisons to enter the 7th inning with a 4 run lead. Instead the club was only leading by a single run.
Miller will go tonight, again facing the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees. Pitching at home for the first time this season and against the same team in five days will be the least of Miller's obstacles, as he needs to prove he is healthy and ready to be a factor with the Indians this season. If his first start was any indication of things to come, I must admit I was wrong about the kid. Here's to hoping!
I was intending on heading to the game this evening, however I have other obligations to take care of (namely school work that I have procrastinated on up until now that is due in the next two days). I will, however, be listening to the game on the radio and will provide updates as I see fit. I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am.
I will be doing live updates during this game at my blog http://theoutsiderslook.blogspot.com. Visit the blog during the game or at some other point for more up to date inforation.