CLEVELAND -- There was a time in Andrew Miller’s career when the left-handed pitcher struggled to get people out and keep runners on base rather than allowing them to cross home plate.
But after bouncing around to three teams in his first eight years in Major League Baseball, Miller found his way in the Boston Red Sox bullpen, and has been played at an elite level ever since.
Acquired by the Cleveland Indians at the trading deadline from the New York Yankees, Miller played a huge role in the three-game sweep of the Red Sox, as he struck out seven batters, surrendered only two hits and let just one inherited runner score over four innings of work.
“Everybody who has seen Andrew pitch knows his numbers,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He's an elite reliever, but on top of that, because we can leverage him whenever we feel helps us the most, you have that going for you and it takes -- he faces obviously the left-handers, so it's easier for Cody and Bryan Shaw and Otero -- their numbers have been better, too.
“The idea (is) that you can pitch him anytime (because of) his willingness. Our other guys do the same thing, so it's been a really fun bullpen to work with.”
With Sandy Leon, Boston’s catcher and No. 8 hitter, having already smashed a lead-off home run to center field, which drew the Red Sox to within a run of the Indians, 4-3, in the top of the fifth inning of Game 1, Francona made the call to the bullpen for Miller.
Despite third baseman Brock Holt doubling to deep center field and right fielder Mookie Betts working his way to a walk following a seven-pitch at-bat after being down in the count, 1-2, Miller faced off against and struck out one of the best hitters in postseason history, David Ortiz.
After allowing an inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly following a double from Betts off of the wall in left field, Miller shut the door on a bigger rally for the Red Sox in the sixth inning of Game 3 when he set down first baseman Hanley Ramirez on strikes.
And with his recent success, if given the opportunity to use Miller for multiple innings per outing against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, Francona will not hesitate to do so.
“The idea when he came to Boston was that he would try to work on simplifying some things and I don't know in my wildest dreams that we ever imagined him being this good,” Francona said. “It's amazing what confidence and repetition does. He's really something.”