Control still an issue for Miller

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Control still an issue for Miller

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- When the Red Sox promoted Andrew Miller from Pawtucket last month, they knew there would be nights like Friday night.

Nights when Miller can't command the strike zone as well as he'd like. Nights when Miller not only walks too many (five), but consistently falls behind and has to pitch in hitter's counts.

In his first four starts, Miller displayed improving control, walking 11 in his first 22 23 innings, but only once more than three in any one start.

There were signs, however, that Friday wasn't going to be his night. He walked two of the first three hitters in the first inning, and one scored.

And in the second, he walked another to help load the bases, setting the stage for a grand slam by Ben Zobrist, leading to a 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

"The walks really hurt,'' acknowledged Terry Francona." The strike-to-walk ratio (85 pitches, 51 strikes) wasn't horrible, but all of the balls (he threw) were bunched together. That's a tough way to pitch.''

Indeed, Miller was gone after just 2 23 innings, forcing the Sox to use four relievers to cover the final 5 13 innings.

"I pitched around the plate,'' said Miller, "but I got behind in counts, threw pitches up in the zone and you can't be successful that way.''

Miller maintained that the off-night wasn't the result of any sort of mechanical flaw.

"To be honest with you, I actually felt pretty good about where the ball was going,'' Miller said. "I just think I found myself in counts, in a lot of deep counts. I've got to do a better job attacking the zone insteading of trying to hit the corners.''

A more aggressive approach, in other words, may have cut down on walks and changed the outcome.

In needing 85 pitches to get just eight outs, Miller put himself in a tough position, with his pitch count climbing early.

"I'm not doing it on purpose,'' he said, "but it seemed like I'm just missing off the plate or hitting the corner. What got me back here (to the big leagues) is being aggressive in the strike zone and I'm not doing that right now. I've got to do a better job (with that).

"To me, it seems like I'm kind of nibbling and finding myself in counts. These guys are good enough that when they're ahead in the count, they're going to tattoo the ball pretty good.''

Pitching coach Curt Young echoed the same sentiment and said pitching consistently from behind was what doomed Miller.

"He's been throwing the ball good...he's been solid,'' Young said. "Tonight was (about) not being ahead and not a lot of early outs.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pomeranz gives up three runs in Red Sox loss to Blue Jays

Pomeranz gives up three runs in Red Sox loss to Blue Jays

Starter Drew Pomeranz gives up three runs on five hits in four innings of work in the Red Sox' 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday.

Lou Merloni breaks down Pomeranz's start and explains why he should be in the starting rotation to begin the season.

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

The dearth of homegrown starting pitching for the Red Sox is talked about almost as much as every Tom Brady post on Instagram.

Red Sox fans may take some solace in knowing their team isn’t the only one dealing with this problem.

In an interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn’t talk about his team’s pitching problems in context of the Red Sox. But the explanation the longtime Yanks boss offered should sound familiar. 

In the biggest of markets, time to develop properly is scarce.

“Yeah. It's a fact,” Cashman said when asked if criticism of their pitching development was fair. “I think part of the process has been certainly where we draft. Because we've had a lot of success, we've not been allowed to tank and go off the board and therefore get access to some of the high-end stuff that plays out to be impactful. Part of it is we can't get out of our own way because we don't have the patience to let guys finish off their development, because if you possess some unique ability that stands out above everybody else -- whether it was Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, now [Luis] Severino and before that [Bryan] Mitchell and Shane Greene -- we're pulling them up before their development is finished.

“Teams like Tampa Bay, for instance, they're going to wait until they have their four pitches down and their innings limits are all exceeded at the minor-league level; they're very disciplined in that approach as they finish off their starters. For us, if I'm looking at my owner and he says, ‘What's our best team we can take north?’ 

“Well, ‘We could take this guy; he's not necessarily 100 percent finished off, but we can stick him in our 'pen. He can be in the back end of our rotation, because he's better than some of the guys we already have,’ and then you cut corners, so I think that probably plays a role in it.”

Not everything is circumstantial, though -- or a deflection. 

“And sometimes we don't make the right decisions, either, when we're making draft selections and signings and stuff like that,” Cashman continued. “On top of it all, playing in New York is a lot different than playing anywhere else.”

We’ve heard that last part about Boston too, here and there.

Cashman was complimentary of his current Sox counterpart, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, whose team Cashman has compared to the Golden State Warriors.

On his feelings when he first heard the Sox were getting Chris Sale:

“When that trade was consummated, that was the first thing I thought about, which was, 'Wow, look at what they've done,' ” Cashman said. “I know how it's going to play out for them. Listen, Steve Kerr does a great job managing that team -- oh, I mean John Farrell. It's a lot of talent and with talent comes pressure to perform. I think Dave Dombrowski has done everything he possibly can to provide that city with a world championship team. They've got 162 games to show it.”