(BaseballStL) – Shelby Miller has been extremely effective over his last four starts, giving up four earned runs in 33.0 innings pitched, including the single run he gave up in the Cardinals’ 5-4 victory over the Rockies Saturday.
One constant in those four starts has been his backstop, Yadier Molina, who has caught every Miller start since coming off the disabled list.
“There’s always an emphasis on what happens with the catcher working with the pitcher,” manager Mike Matheny explained, “Sometimes it’s a safety net and sometimes it makes a difference with their stuff. I think Yadi’s been creative with the new pitches Shelby has and it’s really translated into some better outings.”
Miller has relied more on his curveball instead of just his four-seam fastball while working in a slider. He gives almost all of the credit to Molina.
“I just follow Yadi pretty much the whole time,” Miller continued, “Yadi, he’s special. He’s one of a kind. When it comes to knowledge of catching, he’s got it all. He’s the key reason to my success, not only this stretch of good game, but in my career. I rely on that guy a lot. I trust that guy with every pitch I throw to him.”
Miller also helped out his cause with his bat in the second inning with a two-out RBI double to give the Redbirds a 2-0 lead. The double was the fifth of the season for Miller, which leads all MLB pitchers. It was also his fourth RBI, the most in his career.
“I just tried to get a pitch to hit,” Miller said, “We [starters and relievers] on hitting a lot. We swing every day, that’s something we take some pride in. We know at the plate we can help ourselves to win if we can put the ball in play and try to get some hits.”
Yet, Matheny opted to lift Miller in the sixth inning for pinch hitter Oscar Taveras and it was a moved that became necessary as the game progressed. Taveras singled into right to score Molina and give the Cardinals an insurance run that they needed in the ninth. Taveras is 6 for 12 as a pinch hitter with 5 RBI.
Matheny said he knew Carlos Martinez and Pat Neshek needed some work out of the bullpen after several days of rest.
“We had an opportunity to get another run, fortunately Oscar put up a nice at-bat,” he said, “He comes up ready to swing. He’s got a nice idea of what he’s going to do when he gets up there.”
Neshek earned the save in the ninth after he and Freeman gave up three runs, but held on to win 5-4. Both Milwaukee and Pittsburgh lost, to Cincinnati and Chicago respectively, which moves the Cardinals 3.5 games up on the Pirates and 5.0 games on the Brewers.
The Cardinals will throw Marco Gonzales Sunday as they try for their first sweep of the Rockies since September 2010.