Will Miley's tough September cost him October?
Lefty battles in final regular-season start; Astros fall in 12
ANAHEIM -- Considering how rough the month of September has gone for Wade Miley, he was able to extrapolate some positives from his final outing of the regular season despite needing 93 pitches to work his way through four innings Thursday night.
Miley, whose terrific season unraveled this month, allowed three runs, five hits and two walks and had been out of the game for hours by the time the Angels won it in walk-off fashion, 4-3, over the Astros in the 12th inning on a hard-hit ball by Andrelton Simmons that went for a tough error on first baseman Kyle Tucker.
Regardless, the Astros’ quest to clinch home-field advantage through the American League Championship Series continues. They lead the Yankees for the best record in the AL by two games with three to play and own the tiebreaker, so any Astros win or Yankees loss this weekend seals it for Houston. The Astros are one game ahead of the Dodgers for the best record in the Majors and also hold that tiebreaker.
Miley was a shoo-in to be the team’s fourth starter behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke in the AL Division Series when he was 13-4 with a 3.06 ERA through August, but he’s posted a 16.68 ERA in September and is now on the playoff-roster bubble.
Miley got the Angels to take some ugly hacks on the inside cutter, and he got some swings and misses on his changeup and curveball, which he said was a step in the right direction.
“A lot more positives than I’ve been getting,” Miley said. “I felt a lot better tonight. I felt I attacked the zone a lot better. The first inning, I gave up the double on a mistake up and over, but for the most part, I felt like I made some really good pitches in and got some swings.”
Now, Miley must await his fate for October. Rookie Jose Urquidy, who starts Friday against the Angels, could be a candidate to start in the playoffs if the Astros decide they aren’t comfortable giving the ball to Miley.
“I never lost confidence in that aspect,” Miley said. “I just went through a struggle. Definitely a big step for me, a big confidence-booster for me. I felt I could go back in on guys and get some bad swings, and I was able to do that, especially in the third and fourth innings. I’d like to have stayed out there a little longer, but it just wasn’t in the cards tonight.”
Miley had some bad luck in the first inning when he appeared to have struck out Kevan Smith to end the inning before the umpires convened and ruled a foul tip. Smith took advantage and ripped a two-run double. Miley wound up retiring seven of the final eight batters he faced.
“We saw some better results from him and a little bit of better stuff,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Tough getting into the game again, and then he settled in and used up a lot of pitches really, really, early. Some good, but some struggles throwing strikes when he wanted to. All in all, a mixed day for him.”
With several regular position players on the bench following an early-morning arrival in Southern California, the Astros clawed back from a 3-0 hole behind a solo homer from Tucker and a two-run blast from Jack Mayfield. That extended Houston’s franchise record of consecutive games with a homer to 22.
The Astros were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 17 runners on base, a season-high. The Angels used 10 pitchers.
“That’s a lot for even an extra-inning game,” Hinch said of the Astros' runners left on base. “We had our chances. A lot of at-bats, contact to the outfield would have been good for us. Couldn’t come up with the big swing or just the small swing to get something across. [The Angels] did at the end.”