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Cards want Miller to improve in preventing steals

ST LOUIS -- There is a common trend among the steals that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has surrendered this season.

While the All-Star catcher has allowed only 13 runners to swipe a base on him, leading to a league-best caught-stealing percentage, those steals have commonly come with starter Shelby Miller on the mound.

That trend continued in Wednesday's series finale as Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole two bases.

"I thought I mixed up the [delivery] times [to the plate] with him a little bit," Miller said. "I don't know how good jumps he was getting on me, but obviously, it was pretty good."

Both of Ellsbury's steals came in run-filled innings as he stole second in the four-run third and then did the same in the three-run fourth. Miller struggled to hold Ellsbury close in both frames.

"They just made an aggressive jump and timed it up perfect. And it was a slower move to the plate," manager Mike Matheny said. "Sometimes that is the natural reaction when you start giving up a lot of runs -- your mind is on, 'I have to make good pitches here because I'm getting beat.' That's just something that can't happen on all of our parts."

Allowing baserunners to advance was an issue for Miller last season, too. The right-hander allowed eight steals in his first 10 starts a season ago. He has now allowed seven steals through 11 games this season, allowing two in three different outings, including each of his last two starts.

That was one of many things on his mind following Wednesday's 7-4 loss.

"There is a lot of improvement for a lot of places right now," Miller said after allowing a career-high seven runs. "You don't want them taking bags like that. Just all around, a bad game for me. I just didn't have it."

While Miller struggled to hold baserunners in the first two months last season, a conscious effort to improve in the area paid dividends. Miller allowed only one steal over his final 21 starts of the season, going 20 straight outings without a steal before allowing one in his final start.

Matheny would like to see that happen again in Miller's coming starts.

"You have to be conscious of it and you have to continue to work on it," Matheny said. "Pitchers can fall into a rut where it's the same routine. I don't care how good you are at the pickoff move, if you're doing the same amount of hold before you go to the plate, they're going to take advantage every time."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for
Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Shelby Miller, Yadier Molina