KANSAS CITY -- Shelby Miller started the night with the third-highest ERA in Major League Baseball for pitchers with more than 25 innings. It didn’t get better.
The Royals pounded Miller for seven hits and eight runs in 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday night and the Rangers -- down nine runs after two innings -- went on to an 11-5 loss in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium.
For Miller, it was another frustrating chapter in what has been a rocky start to the 2019 season. Miller has not gone longer than 5 1/3 innings in any of his eight starts and has gone fewer than five innings in six of the eight.
“It’s tough,” Miller said. “I felt like I threw some good pitches, but they were on my heater away so I probably could have showed them the inside more."
The right-hander nearly got out of the first inning unscathed, but Alex Gordon’s softly hit fly ball with two out fell for an RBI double just inside the left-field line. Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler followed with RBI hits and the outing got completely away from Miller in the second when the Royals finished his night early with a six-run uprising.
“My arm is feeling good, but the location isn’t as good as it could be," Miller said. “I’m obviously disappointed in the way I’m pitching right now. So we have to figure something out.”
Rangers manager Chris Woodward said Tuesday’s outing for Miller was a matter of not being able to put hitters away with two-strike counts. Woodward felt the Royals’ hitters were looking away and agreed that Miller might have needed to keep those hitters honest by working inside on a more consistent basis.
“The ball was coming out of his hand good, but those 1-2 counts and 0-2 counts. … they kept staying middle of the field and opposite way,” Woodward said. “I give [the Royals] credit, but I think [Miller’s] execution can be better. I feel like they were just looking out the whole time.”
Gordon’s soft fly that fell in the first symbolized Miller’s plight.
“When it rains, it pours,” Woodward said. “The game kicks you when you are down. If that ball is caught, he’s out of the inning with no runs.”
Woodward reiterated after the game that he thinks Ariel Jurado will get a start soon. But how it will all materialize with regards to the starting rotation is still up in the air.