Bryce Miller continues sterling start to his career, pitching a six-inning gem to help the Mariners clinch another win versus the Athletics.
There will still be doubters, but at some point it has to be accepted that Bryce Miller is the real deal. He continued the outstanding start to his Major League career, with another strong outing for the Mariners on Wednesday night.
The victims this time around were the Athletics, who continue to make this arguably the most miserable of seasons for their fans. The Mariners won 6-1, with Miller playing a significant role in their third consecutive victory.
The righty tossed six scoreless innings versus Oakland, allowing just two hits and one walk in the process. He also produced 13 swings-and-misses on his way to six strikeouts.
Miller off to a historic start to his Major League career
As a result, Miller became the first pitcher since at least 1901 to go six+ innings and allow four or fewer hits in each of his first five Major League appearances. He also has the best ERA in Mariners history for a pitcher through their first five career starts, ahead of James Paxton and a certain Felix Hernandez.
The 24-year-old has relied on his fastball a lot since being called up to the Mariners. However, he took it to new heights versus the Athletics.
Miller threw 73 fastballs during his 90-pitch performance, representing a career-high 81 percent usage rate. And until opposing batters have an answer, why not continue to utilize it with so much frequency.
The 2021 fourth round draft pick discussed his heater with the media after the game. He said:
“Honestly, I’ve been kind of surprised in all my starts with the amount of fastballs I’ve thrown. But I mean, I’m just going to keep throwing them. It’s working. In the minor leagues I never threw that many fastballs, just because I was working on my off-speed and stuff. I was never really able to see how effective I could be if I threw it so much. Obviously it’s been working.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais certainly has no issue with his young pitcher using the fastball as often as he does. He said:
“That fastball, it works. It works at the top of the zone. Certainly Oakland had seen him before, they knew what to expect and they still weren’t able to get on him.”
Not that Miller doesn’t have other effective weapons in his arsenal. He said:
“The main thing off-speed-wise I’ve been trying to work on is getting the slider — or the cutter — down on the back of the plate. And the two strikeouts I had on it, were executed well. Whenever I execute that, it plays off the fastball a lot better than whenever I’m over the plate.”
Final inning challenge
The only time Miller really faced any type of adversity was during his last inning. With one out, he first hit Esteury Ruiz with a pitch and then allowed a single.
The Mount Pleasant, Texas native admitted he was slightly tired, although he still managed to recover and get the two outs needed to end the threat and the inning. He said:
“I was definitely getting a little fatigued. Coming off 102 pitches on a five-day (rotation), I could feel it.”
Miller has undoubtedly been a blessing since coming into the rotation ahead of schedule due to injury and player struggles. Servais said:
“When you lose a guy like Robbie Ray, and then you have a young guy come in like that and take the opportunity and run with it, it is just fantastic. It’s great to see. And again, I’ve mentioned it earlier, but what a job by our people in player development, the pitching coaches and the people (that) have been around him, leading him to us here. He’s been ready to go from day one.”
Mariners bats do what they need to
Offensively, you had to wonder if the bats were going to have one of their too frequent subpar nights. Especially when they loaded the bases in the second inning with just one out, but failed to score any runs.
Fortunately for the 14,899 in attendance at T-Mobile Park, the Mariners finally got into gear in the fourth inning. After once again loading the bases with just one out, Sam Haggerty got things going with a two-RBI double.
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J.P. Crawford and Julio Rodriguez then each added an RBI single, to make it 4-0 Mariners. It was important for Rodriguez in particular to score, as he continued to recover from his recent struggles with the bat.
Cal Raleigh completed the fourth-inning scoring blitz, forcing a walk with the bases loaded to bring home the fifth run. Seattle’s sixth and final run came in the sixth courtesy of a Teoscar Hernandez home run, in response to Oakland’s only score in the top of the inning.
Still more to come
Servais still thinks the offense can be better, but he was satisfied enough on a night his team managed 11 hits. He said:
“A lot of good at-bats all night long, controlling the strike zone and getting some pitches to hit. I still don’t think we are clicking like we can, but we are moving in the right direction.”
As much as the offense contributed, Servais couldn’t help praising Miller some more. He said:
“I don’t know what the nickname is going to be for Bryce Miller. It’s Miller Time or whatever you want to call him, but he did an outstanding job tonight.”
With the 6-1 win, the Mariners move above .500 for just the third time this year. They will now go for the four-game sweep on Thursday night, with Logan Gilbert taking the mound.
Do you believe the Mariners are back on track with their three-game winning streak? Or are you taking it with a pinch of salt, given the opponent? Let us know in the comments section below.
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