'Lost on an island,' Miley finds his way back

Lefty pitches 6 strong innings after wild start; Astros win fifth in a row

July 4th, 2019

DENVER -- It appeared early as if Coors Field wasn’t even going to have a chance to gobble up . That would require him being able to throw the ball over the plate, something he couldn’t do in the early stages of Wednesday’s 4-2 win against the Rockies.

Miley walked Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story to begin the game and fell behind Nolan Arenado, 3-0, before the Rockies’ All-Star third baseman did him a favor and popped up on the next pitch. An Ian Desmond single one out later put Colorado on the board, but the Rockies’ best shot to get to Miley was gone.

The veteran left-hander settled in to throw six strong innings, allowing one run and five hits while striking out six batters, and Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel backed him with solo homers to lead the Astros to their fifth win in a row and a two-game sweep of the Rockies.

“I felt lost on an island out there in the first inning,” Miley said. “I couldn’t throw a strike. I was just trying to throw it over the plate and just let them hit it. The last thing I wanted to do was walk guys around the basepaths. But I was able to get through it and found some traction in the third and fourth and felt back to myself. I found the cutter and was able to mix pitches and get through it.”

Miley said Arenado swinging at 3-0 was helpful, but David Dahl swinging at the next pitch and flying out to left really helped bail him out.

“I could see [Arenado] doing it because he can do damage on that pitch, knowing I’m trying to get it over the plate,” he said. “I’m a little shocked the next hitter swung, 0-0. Thank you. It worked out in our favor. I’ll take it all the time.”

Miley (7-4), who didn’t allow a runner past second base after the first inning, improved to 8-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 career starts against the Rockies, including 4-1 with a 4.60 ERA in five starts at Coors Field.

Astros manager AJ Hinch said he nearly made a call to the bullpen in the first because Miley was so wild.

“I stayed patient with him,” Hinch said. “He got better as the game went on, obviously, with his command, his control. He felt better at the end than he did at the beginning. He was so erratic early, the most important part of the game was the first inning and just being able to get through Arenado and Dahl when he was behind 3-0 on Arenado. That just got him back in the game and controlled damage. He found the feel for his pitches.”

Gurriel’s homer in the second inning -- his sixth in his past eight games -- put the Astros ahead, 2-1, and Josh Reddick hit a bases-loaded double over the head of Desmond in center to score a pair for a 4-1 lead in the third. The hit had a 99 percent catch probability, according to Statcast, but Desmond broke in on the ball initially and watched it sail over his head.

“It was definitely a really good game for us,” said Bregman, who hit his 23rd homer in the first on the same night he was picked as part of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby field. “Wade gave us a chance to win, Yuli big swing, Reddick big swing and our bullpen was nails. Good two-game sweep, and back to Houston to finish out the first half strong.”

The Astros’ pitching staff held the potent Rockies to five singles and two doubles. Collin McHugh threw two-thirds of a scoreless inning, and Hector Rondon and Roberto Osuna closed it out. Osuna has 19 saves.

“We’re playing pretty well offensively,” Hinch said. “We’re getting pretty timely with our hitting and pretty good at-bats. The back of the bullpen has been very good, and we’ve also had to use a variety of relievers. Our starting pitching, today’s a good example where we wobble a little bit early and get a little stronger as the game goes. We’ve found ways to win and had some really important at-bats at the most important part of the game.”