Miller shines in return from injury

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Miller shines in return from injury

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pitching for the first time since he felt some stiffness in his left elbow, Andrew Miller would have been happy just to be pain-free Friday night.

The fact that he showed dominant stuff was a bonus.

"Tonight was probably the best stuff I've had, across the board, in the last couple of years,'' said a satisfied Miller.

Pitching the fifth, Miller walked leadoff hitter Joe Mauer, but then retired the next three hitters, two by strikeouts.

"(The elbow) felt real good,'' said Miller. "Hopefully it's something that's in the past. The real test will come (Saturday) morning, but I feel real good right now.''

Miller had been scheduled to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 8, but that outing was scratched when Miller felt some stiffness in the elbow.

"I think you're a little bit worried any time your arm hurts,'' he said. "It wasn't too uncommon a feeling. I'd like to think that, during the season, it was something I wouldn't have missed any time for. From the day (when I first felt it), every day felt pretty good and it got better pretty quickly. I've been pain-free since then.''

Miller's goal is to become a member of the starting rotation, but he realizes he's got some ground to make up after being shut down for a week and a half.

"There's still time to build up and lengthen out,'' he said. "But starters now are going five innings. The goal for me is to be with the big club, but if starting's going to be in the equation, it's going to have to happen pretty fast.

"I've got a ways to go if I'm going to be expected to go throw seven or eight innings...I hope this setback doesnt' eliminate me from that.''

If he doesn't make the rotation, he hopes he has a more meaningful role than serving as the long man, as he did for parts of last season.

"I don't think that's really a role anyone can succeed in,'' he said. "I don't think going long periods of time without pitching, then being expected to go into a game in the first inning of a 10-run game is really a way to succeed.

"I've never been in a situation where I've been asked to consistently get lefties out, or throw an inning or basically pitch three or four times a week. I think I'm capable of it. I would welcome the opoprtunity. My goal is to be part of the team. I think we have a great team and I want to be part of it.''

Whether he starts or relieves, Miller knows the key is to show better consistency.

"That's been my downfall historically,'' said Miller. "I've got to avoid the hiccups I've had in the past where I have a rough one or two (outings) in a row. A good starter is someone who goes out and gives you a chance (to win) every time -- not five out of six, or four out of five.''

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.