CLEVELAND -- Since being acquired in a late-July trade with the New York Yankees last season, reliever Andrew Miller has been an integral part of the bullpen, essentially making himself available to pitch in anywhere from the fifth to the ninth innings in order to secure a win for the Cleveland Indians.
After shining in the 2016 MLB Playoffs, including an MVP performance in the American League Championship Series, Miller continues to do whatever is necessary to help the Indians, and that included working out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in Cleveland’s 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles in Oriole Park at Camden Yards Wednesday night.
“Just limit the damage,” Miller said of his mindset. “I told the guys, ‘Let’s get a ground ball,’ and you just try to slow the inning down as much as you can, make a pitch and I think we’re fortunate it worked out the way it did. You just try to keep them as close as you can and make a big pitch when you need to.”
Miller came into the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning, and induced a fielder’s choice force out at home plate before striking out both catcher Caleb Joseph and pinch hitter Ruben Tejada to strand three runners.
Miller needed just 10 pitches to get through the seventh inning, and then, worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
“That’s the ballgame,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s pretty impressive. We’re 3-0, and it seems like we’re kind of hanging on there, and most of the time, you’re like, ‘Okay, let’s try to limit the damage.’ And for them to get nothing -- and that’s not the only time he’s done that -- he certainly carried the heavy lifting. That was very impressive.”
At the time Miller entered the game, the Orioles were gaining confidence because of three straight singles against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, who had given up just four base hits over the first six innings of the game.
But for the second straight time, Miller relieved Carrasco and shut down an opposing offense on the road, just as he did in an 8-1 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field last Friday night.
“A lot of things went right, that’s what it means,” Miller said. “I made a good adjustment. I felt pretty good out there, and I think the way the sequence of everything worked out well. Just glad to keep them there, glad to keep the game kind of at bay.”
Dating back to the 2014 season, opposing hitters are 0 for 17 against Miller with the bases loaded, but knowing the recent history will do little to throw off the Indians’ 6-foot-7, 205-pound left-handed reliever when he next takes the mound with the game on the line.
“It’s just trying to make a pitch,” Miller said. “I think that as stressful of a moment as it is for the pitcher, it is for the hitter as well. He’s expected to come through, so if I can let that play through to my advantage, I think that’s probably something that helps me out.
“Ultimately, just try to make a pitch, trust your catcher. I think I’ve been fortunate. We’ve got some great defenders. I’d be willing to bet that some of those plays were pretty special behind me to get some sort of streak like that.”