BOSTON — If you like your baseball games to be quick and tidy, Wade Miley is your guy.
Miley’s pitching routine is lean on theatrics. The Red Sox left-hander receives the ball, checks the sign and throws. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Not only is his process simple, but it’s also been — save for one notable exception — highly effective of late for Boston.
The Red Sox have won four of Miley’s last five starts, and the southpaw has earned the victory in all four of those wins. Friday’s outing was one of this finest yet: a 7 1/3-inning effort in which Miley threw 96 pitches, allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out six as the Sox downed the Oakland A’s 4-2 at Fenway Park.
Given that it came on the heels of one of Miley’s worst showings in a Red Sox uniform — a four-inning, six-run disaster last week in Texas — the win was especially satisfying for both the pitcher and his manager, John Farrell.
“Wade was very good,” Farrell said. “A lot of strikes, attacked the strike zone. Setting aside the start five days ago, six days ago, he came back out, rebounded. He’s pitching extremely well, and we were able to play very good defense behind him, particularly in the infield. And I think a lot of that has to do with the pace at which he works.”
That pace, Miley says, sets the tone for everything he does.
“I think it’s good,” he said. “It keeps guys on their toes. Like I always say, I’m just trying to get us back in the dugout as soon as possible. So, the quicker I work, the quicker I can hopefully get three outs.”
Boston’s infielders certainly needed to be on their toes Friday night. Fourteen of Miley’s 16 in-play outs in the win came via groundout, and the Red Sox finished the game without committing an error.
“I was just trying to throw strikes, just get ahead,” Miley said. “You know they’re going to come out swinging, aggressive, and fortunately (the hits) were right at our guys, and we were making the plays.”
Miley’s one mistake came in the seventh inning, when he left a fastball up in the zone that A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie blasted into the Monster seats. Other than than, he did not allow an extra-base hit.
In a drastic turnaround from his starts in April and May, that has become the norm for the former Arizona Diamondback, who for the last month has looked like the reliable starter the Red Sox envisioned when they acquired him in December.
“I think more than anything, he’s settled into the style of pitcher he’d been for the three years in Arizona,” Farrell said. “You take away the first three or four starts of the season, and he’s gotten back to attacking the strike zone — down, particularly, with quality strikes. Everything works off his fastball, and he forces and induces contact. The opposition knows he’s going to attack, and that’s why he’s able to get a lot of early outs.”
And early outs equal quick games. You want quick and tidy? Friday’s contest took just 2:31 to complete.
Thumbnail photo via Charles Krupa/Associated Press