Miller tosses another poor outing for Red Sox


Miller tosses another poor outing for Red Sox

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Making his debut for the Red Sox, facing the Padres June 20, left-hander Andrew Miller recorded wins in three of his first four outings, while the Sox won all four. Jon Lester was the last Sox lefty to go unbeaten in his first four starts, going 5-0 in his first nine starts from June 10 July 23, 2006.

But that may be where the comparisons end for the two left-handers this season.

Getting off to a 4-1 start, with a 4.65 ERA entering Tuesdays game against the Royals at Fenway Park, Millers lone loss came against the Rays, when he gave up seven runs in 2 23 innings on July 15. His wins have come against the Pirates, Astros, and Orioles twice teams that have a combined winning percentage of .463 (120-139). The Rays (36-31) and Pirates (39-37) are the only teams he has faced with winning records.

Add the Royals to the list of teams Miller has now faced with sub-.500 records. Facing the American League Centrals last place team, Miller lasted just 3 23 innings, giving up seven runs (just five earned, courtesy of his own error) on nine hits and two walks with one strikeout and one home run.He threw 80 pitches, 43 for strikes, at 53.7 percent, below the generally accepted level of 60 percent.

Miller was not involved in the decision, as the Sox offense erupted for eight runs after he was knocked out of the game, on their way to 13-9 win over the Royals. His ERA, though, climbed nearly a run, from 4.65 to 5.45 in his outing.

When the Sox signed Miller as a free agent in December, after acquiring him in a trade with the Marlins in November, they knew he would be a project. The former 2006 first-round pick (sixth overall) of the Tigers out of North Carolina offered promise that had yet to come to fruition. Tall and lanky, Miller is often said to have many moving parts in his delivery. The Sox believed if they could unlock that promise, the left-hander could be a key member of their pitching staff.

He has yet to show he can do that, though, against the heavy hitters of the AL. Or even against the not-so-heavy hitters. In four starts against the Orioles twice, the Rays, and the Royals, Miller has gone a combined 17 innings, giving up 17 runs, 15 earned, on 22 hits and 17 walks, with four strikeouts and three home runs. That gives him an AL record of 2-1 with a 7.94 ERA, 2.29 WHIP, and 0.26 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He has not gone six innings in any of those starts, averaging just over four. His only AL loss is against the Rays, the only AL team he has faced with a winning record.

Against the Royals on Tuesday, he dug himself an early hole, allowing two runs in the first. After the Sox offense got the runs back in the home half of the first, Miller again allowed the Royals to put two more on the board in the second.

With the Sox leading by a run in the fourth, Miller again allowed the Royals to go ahead on a two-run homer by Alex Gordon and a solo homer by Billy Butler with one out. After Eric Hosmer flied out, Millers outing was done.

He didnt locate his fastball very well, manager Terry Francona said. He threw some good changeups but he just missed. And then he just didnt follow catcher Jason Variteks glove very much. Velocity was good. The ball came out of his hand really nice, actually stayed in his delivery pretty well. Just didnt throw the ball where he wanted to.

For Varitek, it is difficult to see a pattern to Millers inconsistency.

Its hard to really tell, Varitek said. He had a good outing last outing. The Royals, give these guys a little credit. They swung the bats well and didnt miss many mistakes. When you limit the amount of mistakes you make with quality pitches then things are in your favor most of the time.

Miller is winless in three career starts against the Royals, with an 11.08 ERA. Kansas Citys nine hits Tuesday are the most Miller has allowed in an outing this season.

I think his stuffs good, said Royals manager Ned Yost. But, I think he struggles, like we did tonight, with his command some. He pitches behind in the count some but I like his stuff.

Miller, though, was not satisfied. After Mondays 14-inning game, in which the bullpen combined to pitch 8 23 innings, it would have been beneficial if Miller had gone deeper into the game.

I didnt walk that many guys, I guess, for how long I was out there, he said. But still was behind in the count and up in the zone. Not going to be out there long if youre doing that, unfortunately. I knew coming in to this after Monday night it was my job to pitch deep into the game and didnt do a good job of that tonight. Fortunately Alfredo Aceves was able to come in and pick up a lot of slack. I just wasnt very good.

I felt like I just seemed to dig myself a hole for every at-bat and trying to come back 2-0 and 3-1 turns into a lot of hits, and long innings, and thats what youre trying to avoid.

Miller is at a loss to explain his recent stretch.

Right now, whether its the season-high six walks in the last game against Baltimore on July 20, basically probably got lucky to get through that or just getting behind in the count Tuesday. Successful pitchers pitch ahead in the count. Im not doing that right now.

With the July 31 trading deadline approaching, and with Clay Buchholz on the disabled list, Daisuke Matsuzaka out for the season after Tommy John surgery, and John Lackey battling inconsistency, Millers performance may affect the Sox approach over the next few days.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains


What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains

Across the way from John Farrell in the Rangers dugout this series is a manager who was voted the American League’s best in his first year at the helm, 2015.

Jeff Banister is one of three full-time skippers Rangers president Jon Daniels has had in his time running the Rangers.

Much has been made about how Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski views the manager’s job: that in-game management isn’t the most important, but running the clubhouse is.

How does another top baseball exec look at it? Daniels explained on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast.

“I think manager’s an enormous role,” Daniels said. “Huge importance, I don’t buy into any of the sort of snarky commentary. … What I think sometimes gets a little blown out of proportions, at times whether it’s lineup construction, some of those — the in-game stuff, bullpen management’s very real. 

“Certainly the knowledge of the game is big. I think the ability to teach the game is big. But the No. 1 separator, in my opinion, is managing people. It’s really the word ‘manager.’ Helping to mold the culture in the clubhouse. Getting everybody on the same page. Young players, older players, everybody’s got different self-interests and to be able to get all those unique self-interests enough on the same page for a common goal while representing the club publicly, with the media, with the fans, and doing it under a pretty intense spotlight — I think that’s the biggest piece. Probably the hardest to truly evaluate unless you’re like, in the clubhouse or around the clubhouse on a daily basis and have a sense for who’s good at it, who’s not. That for me is like where guys really separate themselves.”

Asked if he’s ever surprised by player sensitivity, Daniels underscored what stage of life most ballplayers are in.

“Everybody’s different, right?” Daniels said. “So everyone has different insecurities, everyone has different level of ego, grown up in different circumstances. At the end of the day everybody wants a few basic things. You want to be like kind of communicated on a pretty forthright, direct way. You want to be treated with respect. Some guys can handle a little more criticism than others. 

“Some guys can handle a little more criticism from their peers than others can. I think that’s a manager’s job, to understand kind of the different approaches. Players, the guys are in their 20s. Think about where you were when you were first out of college … a few years off that, and your maturity level and really your lack of life experience in a lot of ways. And, kind of like evaluate under those circumstances: you’re going to be somewhat sensitive when you’re in that time period in your life.”

How well a manager handles a clubhouse isn’t something the Rangers, at least, have tried to quantify.

“More anecdotal for me. There may be ways,” Daniels said. “I haven’t really been part of that. If there is [a way] we haven’t figured it out, and we haven’t really tried to do, to be honest with you.”

For the full interview, listen to the podcast below

Farrell: Price to make first Red Sox start of year Monday in Chicago

Farrell: Price to make first Red Sox start of year Monday in Chicago

David Price may have allowed six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings Wednesday night during his second rehab start in Triple-A, but the Red Sox apparently liked what they saw.


Manager John Farrell announced moments ago that Price will rejoin the Red Sox Monday and start that day's game in Chicago against the White Sox. Farrell said the Sox were more concerned with how Price felt physically after his rehab start, not the results, and they're satisfied he's ready to return.

More to come . . .