CLEVELAND -- Left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller has spent much of the second half of the 2017 season battling knee tendonitis that required two stints on the disabled list, but the All-Star reliever returned to the Cleveland Indians’ bullpen for Thursday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field.
Despite giving up a pair of singles to right and center field, respectively, Miller worked a scoreless seventh inning in the Indians’ 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Royals, which expected their American League-record winning streak to 22 straight games.
“I thought he looked much, much closer to Andrew than last time,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after the 10-inning game. “He’s going to need some outings, but that was a really good first step for him.”
Miller threw a 30-pitch simulated game with live batters prior to the team’s 11-0 win over the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field Monday night, and after following up with medical personnel, the decision was made that he would pitch again Thursday.
Against the Royals, Miller allowed a lead-off single to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, but then, after a first-pitch ball, registered a strikeout of former Indians outfielder Brandon Moss. Following a single from shortstop Alcides Escobar, Miller induced a 4-6-3 double play from left fielder Alex Gordon to end the inning.
“It’s a huge lift,” Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin said. “I think everybody in here has seen and knows how good Andrew Miller is, and to have him back and have him healthy, feeling good (is good).
“He’s another weapon for Tito to use in the back end of the bullpen, and he’s a really good weapon at that. To have him back out there, I think it just lifts up the team to the point where we know he’s back and we know he’s back to being Andrew Miller. That’s a big lift for us.”
On August 25, the Indians announced that Miller had been shut down from throwing for five to seven days by medical personnel because of patellofemoral syndrome with associated patella tendonitis.
After being activated from a 16-day stint on the disabled list (August 2-16), Miller was removed from a win over the Boston Red Sox after allowing a walk to the only batter he faced when his typical velocity was not present and he appeared to be laboring on the mound.
Miller was placed on the 10-day DL for the second time in a month the next day.
On the season, Miller is 4-3 with two saves and a 1.62 earned run average over 55.2 innings of work in 49 appearances. He has allowed 11 runs, 10 of which were earned, and 28 hits with three home runs and 17 walks against 80 strikeouts.
The 2016 American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player, Miller has a 0.81 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) and opposing hitters are batting just .147 against him this season.
In parts of two regular seasons with the Indians, Miller is 8-3 with five saves and a 1.59 earned run average over 84.2 innings of work in 75 appearances. Miller has allowed 42 hits, 15 earned runs and six home runs and has 126 strikeouts against just 19 walks since joining the Indians.
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