Right-hander Shelby Miller of the Arizona Diamondbacks seems to have exorcised demons of last season.
Forget about last year because last year was last year. Now, says manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks, let’s appreciate pitcher Shelby Miller for his dedication and results.
During spring training, Lovullo referred to Miller as “in a good place,” and early season results show there is little to dispute that notion. After a year of gross under-achievement and a large chunk of the summer banished to the minor leagues, Miller has come back refreshed and renewed.
What appeared a promising start Sunday turned ugly.
In the fifth inning, Miller was cruising with a shutout over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but developed tightness in his right forearm. The righty opened the frame by walking the first two hitters and then surrendered a RBI double to Corey Seager. After Chris Owings sensed something was not in order, Owings signaled to Lovullo about Miller’s condition and Lovullo proceeded to the mound. Quickly, the decision was made to remove the right-hander. A MRI is scheduled on Miller’s arm for Monday.
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For now, Miller told Venom Strikes after the game he has little concern.
"I feel good and probably will feel better tomorrow. It happened when I came out for the fifth. My arm felt a little tight and I never had this before. I’ll have the MRI and then see where I am (Monday)."
Until that point, Miller appeared to breeze through the Dodger lineup. Although he allowed runners in each of the opening five innings, a double play in the second and Miller retired Justin Turner on a fly to right and struck Adrian Gonzalez with runners on first and second and one out in the third and that addressed any damage. Through the opening four innings, the Dodgers stranded five runners and Miller seem to have the right pitch at the right time.
Then, the fifth.
Opposing pitcher Brandon McCarthy opened the inning with a walk and then Miller issued a free pass to lead-off hitter Joc Pederson, who later left the game with right groin tightness. Miller then surrendered that double to Seager to the fence in left center. One scored on the hit and Pederson came across when Brandan Drury bobbled a relay throw. Exit, Miller
Given the caliber of Miller’s effort this season, Lovullo told Venom Strikes there is always a level of trepidation when making this kind of move.
"I did not like what I saw and made the decision to pull Shelby. He has been throwing the ball extremely well and you hate to see a situation like this pop up."
On the diamond
With a six-run fifth inning, Dodgers earned a 6-1 victory Sunday before 28,704.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt accounted for the Diamondbacks runs with a first inning, two-run homer. In the subsequent eight innings, the Diamondbacks managed five runners and only received a single from Chris Herrmann in the fifth, a single from Jake Lamb in the sixth, a single by David Peralta in the eighth and Lamb’s lead-off double in the ninth. Goldschmidt was the other base runner when he walked with two outs in the third inning.
The loss prevented the Diamondbacks from sweeping the Dodgers in the weekend set. Still, Arizona opened the season by winning eight of his its first 10 in Chase field and have seven games remaining on the current home stand.
Addressing the grind
For Sunday’s series finale against the Dodgers, manager Torey Lovullo implemented what he considers an important dimension.
Given the essence of the baseball season and its’ marathon-like journey, Lovullo, as early as spring training, expressed the desire to rest key players. Telling reporters periodically since the commencement of spring training that no player will start all games, Lovullo rested starters A. J. Pollock, Yasmany Tomas and Chris Owings on Sunday.
During the game, both Tomas and Owings appeared as pinch hitters. Tomas struck out in the seventh and Owings flied to left in the ninth.
During the recently-concluded Dodgers series, Lovullo also said he plans to rest first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, but would not reveal the date or dates. Goldschmidt was in the line-up Sunday and hit in his usual number three hole.
The San Diego Padres now move in to Chase Field for four games.
"Arizona Diamondbacks: Lovullo likes the schedule as constructed"
In the opener Monday night, it’s a rematch of last Wednesday’s pitchers duel. Dropping a 1-0 decision in San Diego, Zack Grienke (1-2, 3.28 ERA) takes on former Diamondback Jhoulys Chacin (2-2, 4.70). For Tuesday night, look for lefty Patrick Corbin (1-3, 3.27) to oppose lefty Clayton Richard (2-2, 3.24). On Wednesday night, righty Taijuan Walker (2-1, 4.37) opposes another former Diamondback ,right-hander Trevor Cahill (1-2, 3.44), and for the series finale on Thursday night, lefty Robbie Ray (2-0, 3.42) takes on veteran righty Jered Weaver (0-1, 3.91).