CLEVELAND -- Andrew Miller did not expect to endure a lengthy delay when he jogged in from the bullpen on Monday night. After his warmup routine was disrupted, the Indians' relief ace felt a twinge in his right knee and was forced to exit his outing against the Red Sox
CLEVELAND -- Andrew Miller did not expect to endure a lengthy delay when he jogged in from the bullpen on Monday night. After his warmup routine was disrupted, the Indians' relief ace felt a twinge in his right knee and was forced to exit his outing against the Red Sox after only seven pitches.
After that troubling scene, the Indians pulled off a 5-4 comeback win at Progressive Field -- the kind of resilient victory that defined last year's American League pennant winners. As thrilled as the club was to stun Boston in walk-off fashion, concern filled the clubhouse after watching Miller walk off the field. The lefty will be re-evaluated on Tuesday before a decision is made about a possible trip to the disabled list.
"We just want to get him healthy. He's such a weapon," Indians closer Cody Allen said. "It's hard to replace that. You can't really. Guys are going to do our best to try to hold down the fort until he's back. The most important thing is getting him back healthy, however much time he needs to get that thing right and feeling good."
The problem that arose was a re-aggravation of the right knee patella tendinitis that landed Miller on the 10-day DL on Aug. 2 and kept him shelved for 16 days. Miller took over for Cleveland in the seventh inning, walked Mookie Betts on six pitches and then walked off the mound in clear discomfort after firing only one pitch to the next batter, Andrew Benintendi.
During that brief appearance, Miller averaged just 90.1 mph on his four-seam fastball, which was the only pitch he threw. One of his fastballs registered at 88 mph, which is well below his usual range. Miller averaged between 93-95 mph with his fastball over the season's first four months after posting a 95 mph average last season, according to Statcast™.
"When you see the gun up there at 87 [mph], something's up," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "He's one of our guys. He's a key of our bullpen. It's tough."
Leading up to Miller's exit were some unusual circumstances that threw off his normal program.
During the home half of the sixth inning, Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly threw an errant warmup pitch that struck home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in the mask. That led to a delay, while Miller was beginning to prepare to enter in the seventh. Wendelstedt stayed in the game for one more batter, but then left prior to the seventh, leading to another delay while Alan Porter geared up to take over behind the plate.
"I felt pretty good despite all the stuff that was going on," Miller said. "I think the long unpredictable stuff that happened beforehand [had an impact]. That's the way it goes. I've been trying to monitor volume and stuff like that and hopefully have a nice progression. I just think that the way that worked out tonight is just bad luck and unfortunate."
Miller, who was activated from the DL on Friday, has a 1.65 ERA with 79 strikeouts against 17 walks in 54 2/3 innings (48 games) for the Indians this year.
There is a good chance that Miller will wind up on the DL again.
"We'll go back to the drawing board," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's not what we were hoping for, but we'll let the medical people put their heads together and see what they can do."
Santana also exits game
Indians first baseman Carlos Santana left Monday's game in the eighth inning due to lower back tightness. With Santana out, right fielder Jay Bruce took over at first base. Francona noted that Santana felt discomfort in his back before the game, but tried to play through the issue.
"He almost didn't play," Francona said. "He had done something in the cage, you know, where you just get that muscle spasm. And we were getting ready to scratch him, but he said, 'No, I want to play.' And he kind of toughed it out. On his last at-bat, you could see it was bothering him. Then when he sat down, it kind of grabbed at him."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.