Shelby Miller won his first game of 2016 two starts ago and became victim to poor hitting and a disappointing end to his evening in his last outing.
It could be safe to say his season is recovering ever so slowly from a nightmare of a start. The D-backs realize the process still has a way to go.
Like his last outing, Miller hung tough before leaving under less-than-ideal circumstances Wednesday.
The end of the game spelled a 4-2 Arizona loss to the New York Yankees and a pitching line that read 5.2 innings, 10 hits, three earned runs and two walks allowed. After a rough first inning where he allowed a two-run shot to Brett Gardner, Miller recovered a bit but received little help from the D-backs’ offense, which mustered just two hits.
“Gave up a lot of hits, made some mistakes,” Miller said to reporters. “Other than that, I mean, we did a good job of eliminating some damage.”
Yet, D-backs manager Chip Hale continues trying to build confidence for the starting pitcher whose ERA sits at 6.64.
With an out in the sixth inning, Hale approached the mound but surprisingly didn’t yank Miller.
Miller followed by allowing an RBI single to Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs, pushing Chase Headley home and giving New York a 3-1 lead.
“I went out to talk to him and to make sure he knew that was his last hitter. Ellsbury’s numbers against left-handed pitchers are pretty good, granted he’s hit Shelby pretty well,” Hale admitted while pointing out that lefty Andrew Chafin was the D-back warming up in the bullpen. “We had a plan how to pitch him. The pitch; just got the ball up a little bit.”
The exchange between manager and pitcher was far different from Miller’s last start.
Then, Miller’s rough sixth inning turned a 1-0 Arizona lead into a 3-1 deficit that would hold for a final score.
And then, Hale’s visit to the mound amounted to an upset Miller walking off the field before his manager arrived.
Hale made sure to not overstate that interaction — the pitcher was upset having just allowed a home run — and his actions Wednesday only proved how set the D-backs are on continuing to rebuild the confidence of the pitcher they traded for this offseason.
Asked if Hale’s visit to the mound against the Yankees was about building Miller back up, the manager admitted it was part of his decision.
“I think that’s a little bit of it. He’s one of our horses, he’s our number two guy,” Hale said. “For me he earned it, it was his game at that time. He just didn’t execute. But I’d do it again. He’s our guy.”
So does Hale really not second-guess decisions that, in hindsight, change the complexion of a game?
“Of course I do. Yeah. Those are the reasons guys like managers don’t sleep,” Hale said. “Two-fold … we’re trying to give Shelby confidence. You know the matchup (of Ellsbury against a righty) might be better. So yeah, all the decisions that go into a game when you lose is why you don’t sleep.
“I feel good about it. Of course, when it doesn’t work, that’s why I’m losing all my hair and I’m getting really gray.”
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