A game-time temperature of 93 degrees was actually mild compared to the heat Bobby Miller brought to the mound.
Prior to the offense kicking into gear after his departure, a pitching duel is exactly what Miller craves.
"I love those types of games," the hurler said. "Especially when you are facing off against a good arm like [Hancock]. He threw the ball really well today and it was a lot of fun to pitch in that type of game. I seem to get a little more hyped up and locked in."
It was a rebound performance for Miller, who was facing the Travelers for the second straight outing. The 23-year-old was tagged for five runs in 4 2/3 innings during the opener of the six-game series against the Travelers. No such issues plagued Miller in the finale. The right-hander kicked off his first double-digit strikeout performance by fanning six of seven batters beginning in the second.
"The biggest difference [between starts] was with two strikes. I was able to get my curveballs and sliders over and put them away," Miller said. "I was leaving a lot of pitches up last time and I think I only threw about four sliders. I decided last year I needed to use that pitch more against lefties and we did that today. It worked out well."
Arkansas mounted its lone threat against Miller in the fifth after a leadoff walk and an error put the first two runners on. A double steal moved both runners into scoring position with one out, but Miller whiffed consecutive batters to keep the game scoreless. The Louisville product and 2020 first-round Draft pick collected his 10th strikeout during a 1-2-3 sixth, ending his outing at 93 pitches.
Miller was quick to credit his catcher, Chris Betts, for his preparation and knowing the hitters, top to bottom.
"I trust [Betts] a lot. He works his tail off with game planning, like all our catchers do," Miller said. "[Betts] reads the hitters and their swings. We both had the same type of idea of what we wanted to do out there today and that was to make them swing. This is a team that likes to go up there swinging and I used that to my advantage."
The six innings equaled a personal high for Miller, who has surrendered two runs or fewer in nine of his 14 starts. However, he has allowed 21 runs in 20 2/3 innings over his other five outings, which has contributed to his overall 4.45 ERA. A deeper look paints a picture of a hurler who has all the makings of a frontline starter.
Miller has limited opponents to a .224 average with a 1.23 WHIP while striking out 73 in 60 2/3 innings. That comes on the heels of an impressive professional debut last season when the Illinois native posted a 2.40 ERA in 17 appearances (14 starts) with High-A Great Lakes and Tulsa.
Miller was selected 29th overall two years ago after going 15-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 175 innings in college.
"Stuff wise, everything feels really good," Miller said. "My fastball is where it needs to be. My offspeed pitches are good. [Double-A] hitters are a lot more disciplined so I've had to make the adjustment to that. I'm pleased with where I'm at."