Last season’s National League Rookie of the Year runner-up, Wade Miley, was a damage control wizard, holding opposing hitters to a .222 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Entering play on Wednesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander had been far less effective in such situations this season, yielding a .309 opponents’ average with runners in scoring position, .317 with men on base.
Earlier on the Diamondbacks’ road trip, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Miley gave up seven runs en route to his fourth consecutive loss.
“I’m not going to let him go out and keep doing that,” manager Kirk Gibson said after the outing, effectively placing the 26-year-old starter on notice.
Prior to Wednesday’s rain-delayed start at Busch Stadium, Miley was 3-5 with a 5.01 ERA on the season.
Then, facing the MLB-best Cardinals, Miley found his 2012 form, scattering 11 hits in the Diamondbacks’ 10-3 win, striking out three and walking just one. He pitched from the stretch in every inning, ultimately allowing three earned runs and earning the win.
Coming off the Diamondbacks’ 14-inning win on Tuesday night, the team’s bullpen was nearly depleted, making Miley’s already-heavy burden all the more heavy.
When reporters asked Gibson prior to the game what the plan was for managing the bullpen, his response was simple: “Miley’s going to throw a good game.”
The young lefty stuck to his manager’s plan, lasting 6.2 innings and limiting damage throughout.
Headed into the bottom of the seventh inning, Miley had a 7-1 lead, having kept the Cardinals lineup mostly in check, their only prior run coming on an RBI-single from Shane Robinson. Then, looking poised to escape yet another inning unscathed, Miley induced what looked to be an inning-ending groundball from the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter, but second base umpire Jordan Baker obstructed the turn, prolonging the inning. Carlos Beltran later singled in two runs, driving Miley from the game.
The rebound was nevertheless complete. Miley pitched deep into the game, earned the win, and appeared far more effective than he had in previous starts.
And while the outing wasn’t perfect, it did elicit memories of Miley’s breakout 2012 season.
His manager summed the performance up after the game.
“It was just vintage Wade.”