CLEVELAND -- After throwing 40 pitches over two innings of work against the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, many outside of the clubhouse wondered how the Cleveland Indians would use left-handed reliever Andrew Miller for the remainder of the series.
But Miller told Indians manager Terry Francona that he would be willing to do whatever was necessary to win the series, and backed it up by allowing just one hit and one walk over two innings of work in Cleveland’s 4-3 series-clinching Game 3 win over the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park Monday night.
“I was ready,” Miller said. “I stretched pretty much in the third inning I think. I usually go to the fifth, but that's what I did the other day. Josh was so good that we were pretty comfortable, as comfortable as you can be in a playoff game, that he was throwing the ball well.
“But the momentum in these games is so crazy how fast it can swing, I think (you’re) just ready for anything. I think we all are out there, and it's just kind of all hands on deck. And whenever I get the phone call, I try to get ready as quick as I can.”
While many relievers across the league have or long for specific roles at different times of the game, Miller chooses to focus his energy on getting players out, and it has worked well for both himself and the Indians.
Over four innings of postseason work with the Indians, Miller has struck out seven hitters, surrendered just two hits and allowed only one inherited runner to score.
“I think it's a luxury as a reliever to have that,” Miller said of the specific roles in the bullpen. “I think it's valuable that you have a certain inning or a certain batter or whatever it is, but ultimately, the majority of guys sitting in the bullpens, they're prepared from the first inning until the game ends. Most guys kind of work their way back.
“That was certainly my case. I lost my chances, a shot at the rotation in Spring Training, and I started as the long guy, lefty specialist-type situation. So you prepare yourself for anything, and most of us can draw from that experience. Very few guys have been a closer in the minor leagues, and then, installed as a closer pretty quickly in the big leagues.”
Against Boston’s potent lineup, the Indians’ bullpen allowed just two runs over 10.1 innings of work, and will look to do much the same against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, which gets underway with Game 1 at Progressive Field Friday night.
“It's impressive because we got it done,” Miller said. “This offense that we faced, this team is so great, but particularly from the perspective of a relief pitcher, this offense is just unbelievable. To find a way, it doesn't have to be pretty, and it wasn't.”