'Poised' Miller earns first win for Sox

191542.jpg

'Poised' Miller earns first win for Sox

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH When the Red Sox acquired Andrew Miller from Florida last offseason, this is what they were hoping they'd get . . . .eventually.

Miller pitched with a lot of poise, manager Terry Francona said of the left-hander's six-inning performance Sunday, which led the way to a 4-2 victory over the Pirates. We didnt make some plays behind him. We didnt finish some plays, but he had some poise and good stuff and got us far enough, our bullpen came in and did tremendous.

I thought it was really encouraging. I was really pleased.

Although he had baserunners in each of the first three innings, Miller, now 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA since his recall from Pawtucket, kept the Pirates off the scoreboard until the fourth.

He opened the fourth by hitting Neil Walker with a pitch. Matt Diaz then reached on an error by shortstop Marco Scutaro. After a flyout by Lyle Overbay, Walker scored on Ronny Cedenos sacrifice fly.

Miller led off the fifth by walking pitcher James McDonald, then giving up three consecutive hits, with McDonald scoring. But Garrett Jones was thrown out when he overran third. Walker struck out, looking at a slider, and Diaz flied out.

That was all the scoring Miller allowed.

It felt pretty good, Miller said. Kind of battled through a lot of innings. Managed to get by and they made some nice plays behind me. We'll take a win anytime we get it.

The fifth . . . fortunately Jones overran the bag, so that was a nice out to pick up. I think I was able to get soft contact when we wanted it and the guys made some great plays.

Miller is trying not to look too far ahead. A former No. 1 draft pick (sixth overall) by the Tigers in 2006, he has spent nearly as much time in the minor leagues as he has in the big leagues after making his major-league debut less than three weeks after signing.

"I'm taking it one start at a time and preparing for each one the same, he said. Kind of go out there and throw strikes and give us a chance to win games.

Miller worked with PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur, adjusting his pregame routine, as he prepared for his big-league starts.

"When I came up, I was confident the way I was throwing the ball in Triple-A and felt confident it would carry over here, he said. No reason to change anything, just fine
tune things and work between outings, but ultimately things are going in the right direction. Changed my pregame routine up a little bit and its helped me get the game started and helped me be aggressive. Feel settled in from the start.

At 6-feet-7 and lanky, Millers delivery has a lot of moving parts, which pitching coaches have tried to tinker with over the years. That has not been the case with the Sox, he has said, and that's allowed him to focus on his pitching and his pregame routine rather than his mechanics.

"I wish it was that simple, but so far the adjustments have worked and just try to keep it going, he said. It's been a good place for me and the work I've done has panned out so far. For the most part, that bullpen routine is the biggest change. Ultimately though, I just have to throw the ball over plate and make good pitches."

In his second start, he stopped a four-game losing streak, the Sox longest since a four-game slide May 29June 1 and their second longest of the season after starting out 0-6.

"Im just going out there to win every game, Miller said. "I'm going to do the same thing regardless of what happened the previous two, four, 10 games. Try to pitch as deep into the game and give us a chance to win."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Sale on the latest JBJ spectacular catch: 'What's wrong with that guy?'

Sale on the latest JBJ spectacular catch: 'What's wrong with that guy?'

The catches are becoming routine but that doesn't make them any less spectacular.

"'What's wrong with that guy?'" is what Chris Sale asked third baseman Brock Holt after they watched Jackie Bradley Jr. turn what surely looked like an extra base hit off the bat by the Angels' Yunel Escobar into another highlight-reel grab in the first inning of the Red Sox' 6-2 victory over the Angels in Anaheim on Friday night. 

"I literally, I looked at Brock and said, 'What's wrong with that guy?'" Sale told reporters, including MassLive.com's Jen McCaffrey. "It just seems like once he makes a great catch, it's like, all right, that's the best one. And then he makes another one, and ok, that's the best one now. It just seems like he's always raising the bar. It's fun to watch."

Less than a week after robbing the Yankees' Aaron Judge of a home run with his catch in the triangle at Fenway (below), Bradley explained yet another spectacular catch, this time to NESN's Jamai Webster.  

“Off the bat, it was well hit,” Bradley Jr. told Webster “Head[ed] towards the gap, I believe he had two strikes on him, so I was playing him toward the opposite field a little bit. I took off, tried to gauge as much as I possibly can, tried to time up my steps to try to make a leap...I wanted to go for it.”

"That's a big-time play by a big-time player," Sale said. 

"I don't know if you expect it, but I guess we're starting to, especially with what they're doing out there," Sale said. "Those guys, all four [outfielder, Bradley, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Chris Young], they work as hard as anybody, and they cover a lot of ground. I've said it before, it feels like we have four outfielders out there sometimes playing in the same game. It definitely doesn't go unnoticed by us as pitchers, and I think our whole team appreciates the effort all the way around."

On Twitter, JBJ's play drew an "Angels In The Outfield" comparison from fellow center fielder Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles.