Miller's 'poor performance' dooms Red Sox

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Miller's 'poor performance' dooms Red Sox

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Andrew Miller didnt waste words. This was not what he had been expecting, and certainly not what he was hoping for.

After two strong outings, during which he gave up just one run over 11 23 combined innings in Kansas City and Texas, his outing against the Rangers Friday night at Fenway Park was, in his words, a pretty poor performance. He lasted just 1 13 innings, giving up six runs on five hits and four walks, with one strikeout and a balk. After a three-run homer to Kinsler in the second, he departed, leaving the bases loaded for Michael Bowden.

He faced 13 batters, throwing 52 pitches (26 strikes). Millers record fell to 6-2, while his ERA jumped to 5.27. He threw 30 pitches in the first inning, just 16 for strikes.

We fell behind some guys and we couldnt really zone in, said catcher Jason Varitek. Not to make excuses, but its been a while (Miller's last appearance was Aug. 25) since hes been on the mound. They didnt really give him much room and once that happened they stepped on the gas pedal pretty good.

In the first inning, after walking Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, Miller committed a balk before striking out Josh Hamilton, looking at a slider. But Michael Youngs single scored Kinsler, and Adrian Beltres sacrifice fly scored Andrus before Mike Napoli grounded out to end the inning.

In the second, after Yorvit Torrrealba and David Murphy led off with singles, Craig Gentry moved them over with a sacrifice bunt, which would prove to be the only out Miller could get in the inning. Kinsler followed with a three-run blast over the Monster. Andrus walked for the second time, and Hamiltons single and walk to Michael Young loaded the bases, ending Millers night.

Michael Bowden entered in the unenviable position. After getting Beltre to fly out, Bowden walked in Andrus, before getting Torrealba to popout to Dustin Pedroia. All the runs were charged to Miller, giving the Sox' woeful offense (two hits) a hole it couldnt remedy.

He started out on the first couple of hitters not commanding and it turned into a couple of runs in the first inning, fortunately just a couple, manager Terry Francona said. Second inning, ball to shortstop Jed Lowries left and couldnt get to, and a ball, kind of a roller gets by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Then he leaves a ball over the middle and it goes a long way. They spread it out and then we couldnt stop it from there. so it was kind of a bad night all the way around. They did a lot offensively. We did very little. Just a tough night.

it was not the kind of outing Francona was expecting from Miller after his two previous outings.

We got awfully excited about Miller after his last couple of starts, Francona said, "and then today coming out of the chute, he was just leaving a lot of balls up, especially arm side, and then when he did bring it in to the plate it was in the middle and got hit.

Facing the Rangers in back-to-back starts -- his Aug. 25 appearance was in Texas -- was not an issue, Miller said.

No, it was one of those times I went out and walked the first two guys and kind of put us back on our heels and never really made the correction, he said. I certainly thought after getting through the first not the way I wanted to go felt like I still had plenty to go to be able to keep us in the game long enough. A couple of ground ball hits to start the inning . . . Pitch was supposed to be in to Kinsler. Im assuming it wasnt. Things snowballed from there. Just never made the correct adjustment.

His pregame warmup gave him no hint of what was to come.

Felt great in the bullpen, he said. Felt good in my warmup pitches right before the game, just kind of came out and didnt have the zone right away. Ended up costing.

His inconsistencies from his previous two starts to this, though, are not completely unexpected. He has had similar stretches in his 13 starts with the Sox since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket in June. But, given his previous two outings -- allowing just six hits and four walks with nine strikeouts this one is even more frustrating.

Disappointing, he said. Felt like I had been throwing the ball well. I had gotten opportunities, certainly didnt do that tonight. From here you kind of dust yourself off and Ill be prepared the next time I get an opportunity. But pretty poor performance tonight.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

By Pat Bradley, CSN Staff

Chris Sale was treating this like a regular season game, and delivered an excellent, midseason performance.

The Boston Red Sox got a taste Tuesday of the star pitcher they acquired last offseason, when Sale dominated the New York Yankees in a 4-2 spring training road win in Tampa, Florida.

Sale, who entered the game having thrown 63 of his 68 spring pitches for strikes (92%), continued to show off his incredible command, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%) in the victory.

The 27-year-old struck out five of the first six Yankees he faced, and finished with an even 10 strikeouts on the night. He’s now struck out 20 batters to just one walk this spring.

"Obviously, anybody who knows anything about sports knows about Boston and New York," Sale said, via The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Coming in here, playing against the Yankees, playing at their park in a night game, it gives it more of a regular-season feel. That's what we're here for. Anytime you can get that much closer to a regular-season game, the better off we're going to be."

His single blemish came on a 2-2 pitch to Yankees designated hitter and noted masher Matt Holliday, who sent the ball sailing to the opposite field for a two-run home run that at the time tied the score at 2.

Sale quickly regrouped, lining out Chris Carter to left field on his very next pitch to end his outing. His final line: two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and a hit batsman in six innings on 86 pitches.

That’s quite a debut to the rivalry, and something the Red Sox are well aware could become a regular thing.

“I don't want to say tonight is the norm,” began Red Sox manager John Farrell, via The Providence Journal, “but certainly he is very capable of doing that every time he walks to the mound.”

Sale wasn’t the only one strutting his stuff on Tuesday, though. Youngsters Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis continued to hit and were pivotal parts of a Red Sox offense that pounded out 13 hits.

After Mike Miller opened the scoring with a solo homer for Boston in the third inning, Travis kept things rolling a few batters later when his base hit scored Hernandez.

Travis was back at it again in the seventh inning, when his groundout scored Heiker Meneses for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez and Travis each finished 2-for-4, with Hernandez tripling (his fifth of the spring) and scoring a run and Travis driving in two runs of his own. They raised their spring averages to .422 and .351, respectively.

Every member of the starting lineup -- which did not feature regulars Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval or Xander Bogaerts -- recorded at least one hit, save for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts out of the cleanup spot.

Boston is back in action Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.