Andrew Miller continues to throw the ball well for the Boston Red Sox. The only thing the left-handed reliever has to show for it this week is two losses to the Minnesota Twins.
Miller, who surrendered a walk-off home run to Chris Parmelee in Tuesday’s series opener at Target Field, suffered another crushing loss in Thursday’s series finale. Aaron Hicks, who entered the game hitting .167, fought off a 3-2 fastball with two outs in the 10th inning to hand Minnesota a 4-3, walk-off win.
“Andrew Miller has been throwing the ball exceptionally well,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said in defense of his reliever following Thursday’s loss. “He gets the big second out (in the 10th inning) with the strikeout to (Chris) Parmelee, and then in the 3-2 count (against Hicks), he and (catcher) David (Ross) had the meeting at the mound. They felt like they could beat (Hicks) with a fastball in, and he fists one into left field for the game-winner.”
Hicks’ game-winning single plated Kurt Suzuki, who doubled with one out in the 10th. The devastating loss dropped the Red Sox back to .500 and spoiled Boston’s impressive ninth-inning rally, which was capped by a clutch, two-out, two-run single by Will Middlebrooks to tie the game at three apiece.
“We showed again today what we showed in Game 1 of this series — what this team continually shows — and that was a willingness and a relentlessness to the group to fight back to tie things,” Farrell said. “We’re a swing of the bat away from walking out of here with a series win.”
The Red Sox instead head home after dropping two of three to the Twins, who moved to within one game of .500 with Thursday’s thrilling victory. Boston went 3-3 on its six-game road trip, as the Red Sox rebounded from nearly being no-hit by Yu Darvish on Friday to secure two straight wins over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington before traveling to Minnesota.
The two walk-off losses in Minnesota definitely sting, especially for Miller, who was forced to exit the mound as the loser in both instances. But they shouldn’t be enough to deter the Red Sox from turning to Miller in high-leverage situations going forward. The left-hander is the Red Sox’s best strikeout reliever outside of closer Koji Uehara, and he even worked a quick and painless ninth inning Thursday before the Twins produced the game-winning run in the 10th with a jam shot into left field.
“It stinks. I feel good out there, but I blew two games,” Miller said. “We lost the series, (and) we lost two games in the series that my name’s attached to, so it stinks.
“I felt pretty good with everything,” Miller added. “I just didn’t make a pitch when I needed to.”
Miller isn’t free of blame. Executing pitches in key spots is the hallmark of a great reliever. But when looking at the big picture, it’s still clear that Miller figures to be an integral part of Boston’s bullpen. Even a couple of painful losses doesn’t change that.
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