Miller tosses another poor outing for Red Sox

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Miller tosses another poor outing for Red Sox

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com 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.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."

Hanley Ramirez's shoulder already a concern for Red Sox heading into WBC

Hanley Ramirez's shoulder already a concern for Red Sox heading into WBC

Another year, another injury concern for Hanley Ramirez. This time, though, it's a bit more complicated.

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell told the media Monday that Ramirez hadn't played any first base during spring training yet due to discomfort in his right throwing shoulder.

“Well, we’re working through ramping up his throwing program,” Farrell said, via WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. “That has taken a little bit more time than anticipated coming in so we’ve got to kind of take that day to day how much we can increase the intensity with the throwing. He’s just working through some soreness with the throwing.”

As Bradford points out, Ramirez and the Red Sox went through the same process last year. Where it differs this time around is Ramirez's scheduled participation in the World Baseball Classic: He's expected to report to Team Domincan Republic on Friday, which means the Red Sox won't be monitoring his every move on the field (though the two training staffs will be communicating daily, also per Bradford).

Ramirez isn't the only first baseman on the roster, with the Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana there as well. So will Ramirez be jumping into game action anytime soon?

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. They haven’t told me anything,” Ramirez told WEEI.com “I’m just going to go there and see.”