Miller keys win with go-ahead hit, key assist at home
OAKLAND -- A Mariners team searching for a big play got two huge ones from shortstop Brad Miller and needed both to pull off Saturday's 5-4, 11-inning victory over the A's at the Coliseum.
Miller's relay throw in the bottom of the 10th cut down the A's potential winning run at the plate. And he followed up with the game-winning double in the top of the 11th as the Mariners won a back-and-forth tussle that sent a sigh of relief through a Seattle team that snapped a three-game losing streak.
"He gets the stars today," manager Lloyd McClendon said of his young shortstop. "He performed extremely well for us on all fronts."
Miller's go-ahead double scored Logan Morrison from second base after Morrison singled and was sacrificed to second by Dustin Ackley, giving Seattle a 5-4 lead that closer Fernando Rodney finished off with his second save as the Mariners improved to 2-3 with their first road win.
"I feel like every time we play them, it's always hard-fought, the game's never over and both teams have a lot of fight," Miller said. "It's fun to be in games like that."
Especially to come out on top in the end, which the Mariners did in large part because of the defensive gem in the 10th when Ben Zobrist tried to score from first on a double off the left-center wall by Ike Davis. Austin Jackson barehanded the carom and got the ball quickly to Miller, who one-hopped a throw to Mike Zunino in time to tag a sliding Zobrist.
"Ball off the wall, runner on first, extra innings -- I know he's probably going to go for it in that situation," Miller said. "You've got to. So I just wanted to get it to Z."
Zunino, who came in as a late replacement for Jesus Sucre on what was supposed to be his first day off, made an outstanding catch and tag to complete the critical play.
"That was awesome," said Miller. "It was kind of a tough hop, and he stuck it and got in front there. He's a strong guy. I wouldn't want to be running into him."
As for his game-winning hit, Miller said he was glad to finally get the best of A's lefty Fernando Abad.
"I've faced him a couple different times, and he's tough," Miller said. "He's been throwing well over the last couple days, too. He's got a fastball, slider, curve. He throws everything. But he left a slider up the other way, and I just tried to stay on it."
That turned out to be Miller's only hit in a 1-for-4 day, but it came at the right time. Miller is batting .333 five games into the season, which is a welcome start for a young shortstop who could play a big role if he continues hitting as well as he did in the second half of 2014.