CLEVELAND -- Left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller told Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona to use him however he needed to, and that is precisely what the veteran skipper did against the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field Thursday night.
Francona inserted Miller into the game with two outs in the top of the fifth, and the 6-foot-7 southpaw threw two innings of one-hit, scoreless baseball, which helped the Indians earn a 5-4 win over the Red Sox, Cleveland’s first postseason victory since the 2007 American League Championship Series.
“At this point, we're all ready to go every day,” Miller said following the win. “We'll find a way. You prepare yourself, you try to take care of yourself. This organization, it's unbelievable what they provide us to kind of go through what it takes to feel good. You've got to take advantage of that tomorrow and find a way to get out there. This is a selfless team. This win sums up who we are.”
After starter Trevor Bauer got two straight outs in the fifth inning, 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 a walk, Miller struck out one of the best hitters in postseason history, David Ortiz, to end the threat in the fifth inning.
“Not the situation we wanted to be in,” Miller said. “I think I'd like to come in and execute a little better early on, but found a way. I think a little excited, a little over amped for the situation. I think I was a little overexcited.
“My breaking ball was not close to the zone, I'd like to execute better. Brock Holt is a really good hitter, and I know it's a lineup with perennial All-Stars, names we recognize as being some of the best in the game. He may not have that same recognition, but he deserves it.
“I fell behind the count, he hit the ball hard. I thought there were a couple of good pitches off the plate to Mookie, he laid off them, didn't want to get hurt there, and unfortunately, found myself facing David in that situation, but just trust it. I'm prepared. I can make a pitch and get out of it.”
Although Miller threw a season-high 40 pitches, 24 of which were in the strike zone, should the Indians need his services against the Red Sox in Game 2 today, he will not hesitate to take the ball in the center of the diamond from Francona.
“The playoffs are a different animal, and it's something that whenever Tito asks anybody to pitch, we're all going to be ready to go,” Miller said. “That's the reality of the situation. It's going to be the same way on the other side for the Boston guys. We'll find a way.”