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Miller providing surprising source of production

HOUSTON -- Brad Miller has quickly established himself as a productive leadoff hitter for the Mariners, who have gone 10-5 with the 23-year-old shortstop in the lineup and 7-4 with him batting first.

But one surprising aspect of his new role has been his RBI production from that spot. Miller went 3-for-5 with five RBIs in Friday's 10-7 win over the Astros. In just 17 Major League starts, he's already had two games with four-plus RBIs.

How rare is that early production? Miller is the first Mariner ever to chalk up two four-plus RBI games in the first 17 games of his career and just the 22nd player in MLB history, joining Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig as the only players to do so this season.

Miller has 12 RBIs going into Saturday's game against the Astros, the second-most in club history for a player in the first 17 games of his career. Alvin Davis had 17 in his first 17 games in 1984.

"Leading off the game, obviously I just want to get on," he said. "In the situation where there are guys out there, definitely the biggest thing we learned is you've got to keep hitting. You've got to get ahead and step on their throats when you get a lead. That was big, just kind of keep gaining on the momentum. Every inning trying to answer back."

Miller figures to be primarily a line-drive, gap hitter, but he crushed his first career home run in the sixth inning Friday, then hit his second in his next at-bat in the eighth.

"I think it was 2-0 count. I was just looking for anything to hit hard," he said of his first bomb, a two-run shot off Bud Norris into the upper deck in right field. "I didn't like the first two pitches. He threw one in there and it felt pretty good, it felt really good. It felt pure. And I kind of blacked out there for a little bit."

His second homer was a three-run pop in the eighth off reliever Josh Fields that just cleared the right-field fence.

"I was just trying to stay alive," Miller said. "It was a 3-2 count and he was throwing me everything and I was just trying to battle. I didn't see it originally off the bat. And then I saw [Justin] Maxwell turn. And I was like, 'Gosh, he's like 7 feet tall, he's about to do something.' He was sizing up the wall. And I was like, 'Just go, just push.' And luckily it was just out of his reach."

Miller said he got both home run balls back and gave them to his parents, who came from Florida to attend the series in Houston.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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