OAKLAND -- The Coliseum was the understated backdrop as a tale of two Millers unfolded on Tuesday night, one that flipped from the best of times to the worst of times -- and eventually back again.
With top Seattle pitching prospect Bryce Miller on the bump opposite Oakland's Mason Miller, there was no shortage of electricity as the two carried dueling no-hit bids deep into the game.
Bryce Miller was perfect until the sixth inning -- but his team was hitless through seven. With a touch of late-inning magic, the Mariners came back to win the series opener 2-1, ensuring that it would be a night to remember -- for the right reasons.
"I've been dreaming about it since I was little," Miller said. "I'll definitely take the results from today."
Miller, Seattle's No. 2 prospect and No. 88 overall per MLB Pipeline, carved out his place in franchise history by becoming the first Mariners pitcher to strike out 10 in his Major League debut. Miller is only the third pitcher in AL/NL history with 10-plus strikeouts and zero walks in his debut, joining Stephen Strasburg and Johnny Cueto.
The Mariners' righty didn't waste any time, punching out the second batter he faced. Unable to hold up his swing on a high fastball, A's first baseman Ryan Noda was the 24-year-old righty's first strikeout victim with one out in the first inning. Miller then struck out his next four batters, becoming the first Mariners pitcher to strike out five in a row in his first big league outing.
Miller averaged a tick over 95 mph on his four-seamer and topped out at 97.3 mph, getting 11 of his 13 whiffs on his primary offering. Manager Scott Servais knew the fastball would be there, but he was less certain that Miller's secondary arsenal would be in full working order.
"Is this going to happen right away, or is it going to take him four or five outings to get into it?" Servais said. "It took him about four or five pitches."
Miller retired each of his first 16 batters and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning, when Tony Kemp broke through with a one-out knock. Esteury Ruiz doubled to drive in Kemp, the first run of the game for either side. But Miller struck out Noda to end the 6th, putting a stamp on his electric outing.
“His fastball seemed to have some life to it. It got on our guys," A's manager Mark Kotsay said. "Breaking ball was good enough to keep them off balance. He came right after us and did a great job.”
On the other side of the ball, the Mariners had no answers for Mason Miller through seven hitless innings. But once he exited, Seattle's bats woke up in the eighth, starting with AJ Pollock wielding the trident to tie the game. Jarred Kelenic finished the job, driving in the go-ahead run on a two-out double.
It was a high-pressure evening by all counts. But you would never know it from Bryce Miller's demeanor on the mound, which was as laid-back as advertised.
Seattle's fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2021 Draft, Miller made quick work of his time in the Minor Leagues, going from High-A Everett to Double-A Arkansas in 2022, his first full professional season. He continued to impress with an eye-opening Spring Training, and made four starts with Arkansas before getting the call.
"If I didn't look at the line, I'd say I was throwing the best I've ever felt, location-wise and action-wise with my stuff," Miller said of his Double-A season, in which he went 0-2 with a 6.41 ERA and allowed five homers over 19 2/3 innings. "Luckily, we have a lot of ways to measure how you're pitching, not just off of the main numbers that a lot of people see on the outside, which kind of reinforced how I felt."
With Robbie Ray out for the year, the door is open for Miller to stick in the Mariners' rotation, setting the stage for a new wave of top-shelf pitching talent in Seattle's farm system to make a name for itself.
If Miller's debut is any indication of what's to come, the Mariners have a lot to look forward to.
“We’ve been spoiled with Logan [Gilbert], spoiled with George [Kirby], and you just don’t know," Servais said. "Everybody handles it a little bit different. … You can’t get off to a much better start than what Bryce did tonight. I hope we continue to get spoiled.”