(BaseballStL) — Though it met a frustrating end, Shelby Miller’s Saturday night outing was another in a string of dominant starts by St. Louis hurlers.
After ending the shutout drama early with a first-inning run, the 23-year-old threw up five blanks before exiting with two outs in the seventh.
Miller struck out seven on his way to the no decision, allowing only four hits. He issued four free passes, the final two coming back-to-back in the seventh to chase him from the game.
“In that last inning, I’ll say this just to make him mad, it looked like he got a little tired,” Mike Matheny said after the game. “Those are things they don’t like to hear, so he’ll come back and have something to say to that for sure.”
For his part, Miller agreed with his manager when he looked back on the seventh.
“Yeah, I got a little tired. Mechanics started falling apart a little bit as well,” he said at his locker. “I was just trying to let them put the ball in play and it got out of the zone a little bit there.”
After a leadoff single by Ryan Zimmerman, the Cardinal starter got a flyout and a 3-2 strikeout to put the Nats against the wall.
He fell behind Jose Lobaton 2-0 before walking him with a full count, then got opposing pitcher Stephen Strasburg down 1-2 before putting him aboard to load the bases. It was Miller’s second walk to Strasburg, something he called “unacceptable.”
“What you do with them is you just try to throw the ball,” he said of opposing pitchers. “You’re not trying to paint pitches, you’re just wanting them to put in play or not do too much.”
Miller would be pulled with two outs in the inning, ending his night a touch prematurely.
Despite the inauspicious end, Miller’s 14th start was a continuation in what Matheny says is a trend of more attentive outings.
“I’ve seen a focus from him that we haven’t really seen before,” the Cardinal manager said. He referenced Miller’s complete game shutout in Toronto and pointed to Saturday night as another instance. “I think some of the lumps he’s taken early this year have taught him how to be a better pitcher. I think he’s been challenged more this year than he’s been challenged his entire career.”
16 batters saw a strike to start the at bat, and he worked 20 called strikes out of his 63 total. Of his approach, Miller echoed Matheny.
“I think I’m a little bit more prepared. Just maturing a little bit more with every single start it seems like. Just trying to focus the entire game. We all take this game very seriously, and my job is to keep my team in the game and keep us in line for the win.”
A job he performed admirably, giving the Birds their 36th W. The victory also gave the Cardinals the wild card edge on the Nationals, as they took four of seven for the season.