Miller chased in return from TJ surgery in loss

June 26th, 2018

MIAMI -- made his much-anticipated return to the mound for the D-backs on Monday, but the Marlins spoiled the party by handing Arizona a 9-5 loss to snap a four-game win streak and open a four-game series at Marlins Park.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo had Miller on a "soft" pitch count, and after 85 pitches (52 strikes), the right-hander's start was complete.

It wasn't an overpowering performance, nor one of his sharpest, but that can be expected from someone who was making his first start since April 23, 2017, after undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 10 of last year.

"It's unfortunate that it didn't go the way he wanted as far as winning the game and going deep in the game," Lovullo said. "But just getting back on the mound and doing what he did today was really nice for all of us."

Miller went just 3 2/3 innings, yielding five runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks. He coaxed six swinging strikes and had a fastball in the 94-mph range.

"I threw a lot in the dirt," Miller said. "Those aren't going to get any swings. I'm throwing two different ones right now. I've got one that's a little slower and one I try to grip a little tighter. It could have been better, the same with my fastball command."

Still, there were positives to be taken from his 2018 debut.

"It's just so good to be back," Miller said. "I felt really good most of the game. I think my command could have been a little bit better. I threw way too many pitches, but overall I think results don't play out as good as I pitched. It's been a long recovery. Just to be back means the world to me."

Miller's undoing was a three-run fourth inning in which he allowed two hits and a costly walk. Nursing a 3-2 lead, Miller gave up the tying run and left with two men on base. He was tagged with the loss when reliever T.J. McFarland yielded a two-run double.

"We know that there's going to be moments like this coming back from Tommy John that aren't going to be perfect every single outing," Lovullo said. "And we're going to have to monitor things to keep pushing forward every day and making sure every outing is positive for him."

Scoring opportunities were plentiful in the early innings. The teams traded first-inning solo home runs from their respective No. 3 hitters in the lineup. hit the first one, a 375-foot blast as projected by Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 102.3 mph and a 37-degree launch angle.

equaled the feat in the bottom half of the inning for the Marlins to tie the game.

The bottom of the D-backs' order came through for a two-run second inning. Chris Owings was hit by a pitch and singled before Jeff Mathis delivered an RBI single. Miller followed with a sacrifice fly to give the D-backs a 3-1 lead.

But 's single to start the third inning was Arizona's last hit until opened the ninth with a triple and scored on an Owings double. Mathis drove in Arizona's final run with a sacrifice fly. By then, however, the Marlins had already piled on with a four-run eighth.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Miller recorded 17 called strikes, but it was the one he didn't get on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the fourth to Marlins starter Dan Straily that ultimately cost him. A fastball that missed the outside part of the plate by the narrowest of margins afforded Straily a two-out walk, as the inning stayed alive with the top of the Marlins' order.

"I'm not going to criticize the umpires. They work as hard as they can to be consistent," Lovullo said. "That's the difference between Shelby maybe walking off the mound and completing the fourth inning. It's part of the game that doesn't always go the way you want it to."

With the inning extended, the Marlins took advantage. singled to tie the game at 3 and Miller's night was done. put the Marlins ahead, 5-3, with a two-run double off McFarland. Both runs were charged to Miller.

"That was a big pitch," Miller said of the crucial walk to Straily. "It was really, really close. Kind of need it there, and [if I get it] the game's completely different."

SOUND SMART

Bour's first-inning homer was the second of his career off Miller. On May 17, 2015, at Marlins Park, it was Bour who broke up Miller's no-hit bid with a two-out single in the ninth inning.

HE SAID IT

"I know in time that he's going to be back to what we remember from last year. We saw signs of that today." -- Lovullo, on Miller's return

UP NEXT

The D-backs are hoping for similar results when they face Marlins starter at 4:10 p.m. MST on Tuesday. On June 1, Arizona tagged the right-hander for five runs on five hits, including three homers, in three innings. Right-hander , who is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his last three starts, goes for Arizona.