Arizona Diamondbacks: Shelby Miller uses curve effectively, gains win

Apr 7, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Shelby Miller (26) putches against the Cleveland Indians during the fourth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Shelby Miller (26) putches against the Cleveland Indians during the fourth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

With another come from-behind victory, the Arizona Diamondbacks are off to a 4-1 start.

The Arizona Diamondbacks hope this is not another scary season for righthander Shelby Miller. In what appeared a contrast of two halves, Miller turned back the clock to last season with a horrid opening two innings Friday against the Cleveland Indians.

Then, as if he waved a magic wand or swallowed a mysterious potion, Miller went into full recovery mode and pitched the way the Diamondbacks expect. In the end, Arizona continued a week-long dynamic, came-from-behind and gained a 7-3 victory over Cleveland before 22,443 in Chase Field. The win moved the Diamondbacks to 4-1 on the season and winners in four of their opening five games for the fourth time in club history.

This one started out in a familiar pattern. Miller yielded a first inning home run to Francisco Lindor and then walked the first batters to open the second. Both scored and quickly Miller was behind 3-0 just 1.1 innings into the game.

Then, the turnaround.

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After the Indians’ Carlos Santana singled with one out in the second, Miller settled down and retired the next 10 until he walked Michael Brantley with two outs in the fifth. Then, Miller went out for the sixth. After a walk and a single from Tyler Naquin, Miller exited with 105 pitches and 65 for strikes.

In gaining a victory in his initial start of the season, Miller told Venom Strikes that he went with his curve after the Indians jumped on the fast ball early. Changing pitches was the catalyst for his win and solid effort

"I went with the curve more after the second inning. They are a good fast-ball hitting team and by going to the curve, I wanted to make them feel not as comfortable in the box. The win feels great and after what happened last season, that means a lot to me. If put up zeros, we would have a change to get back in the game. The offense here is so good that as pitchers, we are really appreciative of what they do for us."

Of course, it didn’t hurt to have a raging offense. Coming from behind in all four wins to date, the Diamondbacks brought out the heavy lumber. Down 3-0, Arizona powered another come-from-behind victory as they scored a pair in the fourth, and for the first time this season, batted around in a five-run fifth inning.

If Miller had some difficulty early, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes there was a good reason.

"This is the first start of the season for these guys and I’m sure they’re a little excited. It took a few innings for Shelby to settle down and those moments will happen. After the first few innings, he repeated his delivery and pounded the strike zone. That was the key for him."

The offense continues to put up numbers at an alarming rate. In the past three games, the Diamondbacks scored 24 runs for an average of eight per game. Plus, the team is batting .395 (17-for-43) with runners in scoring position.


In the second game of the current series, the Arizona Diamondbacks face right-hander Trevor Bauer. Selected in the first round by Arizona, and third overall in the 2011 draft, Bauer’s idiosyncratic patterns and usual preparation quickly fell out of favor.

Dealt to Cleveland in December, 2012 as part of a three-team deal involving the New York Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds and the Diamondbacks, Bauer did not gain a spot in the Cleveland rotation until the 2014 season. Now an integral part, Indians’ manager Terry Francona told Venom Strikes before Friday’s game that he believes Bauer could have a strong season.

"What you hear about Trevor was more fiction and less fact. That stuff about his long toss is overrated. Most pitchers do that. He was great this spring. His work ethic was excellent and spent a great deal of time in the weight room."

Bauer, at 26-years-old, is coming off a 12-8 season with Cleveland, and a 4.26 ERA for 28 starts (35 appearances).


Bauer is slated to start Saturday’s game and draw Zack Greinke as his mound opponent. In the series and home stand finale on Sunday, look for lefty Patrick Corbin to start for Arizona and former Cy Young award-winner Corey Kluber gets the ball for the Indians.

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The Diamondbacks then embark on a 10-game road trip to San Francisco, San Diego and Dodger Stadium. They return on Friday April 21 to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.