Saturday, May 19, 2007

Andrew Miller Watch: A Damn Good Start

After putting up solid numbers in the minor leagues this season (2.92 ERA, 35 K in 49.1 IP), Andrew Miller was called up by the Tigers to start in place of the injured Jeremy Bonderman. Miller showed why he was sixth overall draft pick in 2006, pitching six scoreless innings and getting the win in the Tigers' 14-4 shellacking of the St. Louis Cardinals. Miller rode his mid-90s fastball and sweeping slider while holding the Cards to 4 hits. He did walk 3 batters, but 2 of these were situational walks that shouldn't be of concern to the Tigers. Miller also struck out 2 batters.

Overshadowing Miller's performance was the offensive outburst of the Tigers. Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez set the tone early, with
each getting a home off Braden Looper by the third inning. After jumping out to a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning, the Tigers exploded for nine runs in the fifth. Detroit had eight hits and two walks in the inning while chasing Looper and reliever Kelvin Jimenez, who allowed seven runs while recording only one out. Every Tigers starter except Curtis Granderson reached base at least twice in the game, and every Tiger except Pudge Rodriguez scored a run in the rout. Magglio Ordonez (3-4, RBI, 3 runs, HR), Gary Sheffield (2-5, 3 RBI, HR), and Sean Casey (4-5, 2 RBI) led the way for the Tigers, who stayed within one game of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central standing.

The only disappointing aspect of the game was the performance of Jason Grilli, whose struggles out of the bullpen continued. Grilli allowed three runs in two innings pitched, including making a throwing error in the eighth (these always seem to happen against the Cardinals) that led to a run for St. Louis. Grilli's ERA is now an unsightly 7.36, and the Tigers are still looking for some consistency out of their Zumaya-less bullpen.

Overall, this was a great game for the Tigers. Although Jim Leyland already stated before the game that Miller would be back in the minors after this start, it was great to see how the kid could play when thrown into a starting role. Look for Miller to be back up in the majors later in the season, as he certainly didn't disappoint in his first major league start. He certainly wasn't lacking run support either, even though he didn't seem to need any. Hopefully the Tigers can continue their offensive tear in tonight's game against the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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