PHOENIX -- There are positive signs for D-backs right-hander Shelby Miller as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. His arm feels good, and his velocity is back to where it was before he tore his ulnar collateral ligament last April.That's all well and good, but on nights like Saturday
PHOENIX -- There are positive signs for D-backs right-hander Shelby Miller as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. His arm feels good, and his velocity is back to where it was before he tore his ulnar collateral ligament last April.
That's all well and good, but on nights like Saturday when his command deserted him and he got hit hard in a 7-0 loss to the Giants at Chase Field, well, it's hard to keep that big-picture perspective.
Miller (0-2) allowed six runs on nine hits over five innings. It was his second start since coming off the disabled list; he allowed five runs over 3 2/3 in his first one against the Marlins last Monday.
"I know it's my second start back in the big leagues, but at the same time I've had rehab starts and you go through all these things that are preparing you for this moment," Miller said. "So being healthy going into it is fine and those are positives, but I feel like I'm past that point and right now we're getting close to the All-Star break and we're playing division teams that are right behind us trying to get first place away from us and I'm going out there and not pitching well so that's more what I'm upset about. I'm not really focused on the little positives that I can take from coming back from a major surgery."
Miller got through the first inning unscathed and allowed just one run in the second on a Brandon Crawford homer.
Things, though, fell apart in the third as the Giants sent nine men to the plate, collecting five hits and four runs to grab a 5-0 lead.
It was that inning, in particular, where command seemed to be the main issue as he left too many pitches over the middle of the plate.
"The command is kind of what's taken the longest to come back," Miller said. "It's decent at times and sometimes it kind of gets sporadic and I'm rushing my mechanics. That's kind of what throws it all off and it just kind of speeds up on you a little bit. At moments like that, I have to just take a deep breath, step back and realize that I need to just be focusing on each pitch one at a time. In the third inning, I just lost focus and didn't do that."
When it's hard for a player to see the big picture, the manager needs to step in and make sure he understands. That's why you can bet D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo will find some time to chat with Miller on Sunday.
"We've got to be patient and I think he's got to practice patience," Lovullo said. "In this game and this time of the year, it's hard to be patient. It's very difficult to pull back and get the proper perspective. So I'll make sure that I round up some time with Shelby and explain to him that this is part of what his progression is."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed chance: It looked like the D-backs would score first in the opening frame when David Peralta lined a double to left with Jake Lamb on first. Left fielder Alen Hanson's throw, however, was better than anticipated, and third-base coach Tony Perezchica put up the stop sign. Lamb didn't appear to see it initially as he was screened by third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and when Lamb tried to stop and reverse course back to third, he was caught in a rundown.
It was one of two baserunning glitches -- Ketel Marte was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in the second -- that hurt the D-backs.
"We didn't build those big innings [like] last night," Lovullo said. "But we had a couple of opportunities and we really couldn't cash in and then we fell behind."
MARTE LEAVES GAME
Marte was removed from the game in the seventh inning with what the team said was a cramp in his right hamstring. Lovullo said Marte is day to day but would be out of Sunday's lineup.
HE SAID IT
"You know, he has great stuff. He just got better. You look at the last couple of innings he threw, he got tougher. We just had some good at-bats in that one inning. He's out there throwing 95. It's only going to get better with him." -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy, on Miller
The D-backs close the three-game series with the Giants on Sunday afternoon with Zack Godley on the mound. The right-hander, who is riding a four-game winning streak, is one win behind Jonathan Lester, Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer for the National League lead in wins. The D-backs will not see the Giants again until Aug. 1.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.