Woodward on Miller: 'He has zero fear'
ARLINGTON -- As the umpire crew reviewed a home run hit by Brad Miller in the seventh inning, the utility man was never even worried.
“I knocked down the pole,” Miller joked in a postgame interview with Bally Sports Southwest.
While Miller didn’t literally knock it down, his 357-foot shot ran right into the foul pole down the right-field line at Globe Life Field for a confirmed home run in the Rangers’ 3-1 win over the Royals on Thursday night. It was the second homer in as many games for Miller.
Miller extended the Rangers’ lead to 2-0 at the time, which would prove to be vital when the Royals scored a run in the very next inning courtesy of an RBI single from Salvador Perez.
“A moment like that, he hits it off the foul pole, he’s pretty excited,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He knew how big that run was and clearly they scored the next inning.”
His homer came just three innings after the Texas offense squandered a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity with routine pop-fly outs from Miller and Jonah Heim.
“If you look at Brad, he's just never going to stop,” Woodward said. “I think that there's a lot to learn from a lot of our younger players. With Brad, every moment is a new moment. He loves to be out there. He knew how important that run was. That moment when we didn't get it done, but then he gets a huge homer for redemption there.”
Miller also had a role in the Rangers’ first run of the game when he led off the first inning with a swinging bunt single and scored on a single from Kole Calhoun. He finished 2-for-3 with a walk on the night.
Miller has been a clutch hitter for Texas this season, whether it’s off the bench late in games or in the starting lineup. The last two home runs he hit before Thursday night were of the pinch-hit variety.
Additionally, Miller has been heating up over the last week, slashing .389/.421/.889 with three homers and seven RBIs over his last seven games.
“I think he has zero fear,” Woodward said. “He thrives in big spots because he has no fear. He loves to play this game and you see it in the emotion and the energy that he brings to our clubhouse and to the game in between the lines. Kole Calhoun is like that too. We need that. Sometimes we’ll get a little stagnant. With those two guys, you just look at them and you feel better. You just feel like a little kid again. That’s basically the way they play the game. I love watching him play.”
The Rangers added one more insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when Adolis García led off with a triple and then scored on a wild pitch. This particular brand of the Rangers scratching and clawing to win games was even more important as the pitching staff continues to thrive and give the club a chance to win.
Starter Taylor Hearn and four relievers combined to give up just one run on five hits. Hearn had his best start of the season, tossing five innings of shutout ball. He allowed just one hit and three walks, while striking out five.
“We’re just trying to get some momentum and keep it going and fight,” Miller added. “They escaped a jam a little there [with the bases loaded] and Taylor kept throwing up zeros, so we needed to help our pitchers out a little bit and get a little breathing room. We’re just trying to be aggressive. Obviously Adolis tacked on another one and that was huge. We needed a little spark.”