'This is the wrong flight': Miller barely makes it

June 11th, 2022

CHICAGO -- “Gate C9 is closing, this is your last call to board a flight to Chicago, the doors are closing.”

That’s the moment that Tyson Miller realized that he might not make his season debut for the Rangers on Friday.

After waking up in Las Vegas at 6 a.m. following Triple-A Round Rock’s three-game set against the Las Vegas Aviators, Miller was on his way to Tacoma, Wash., with the team. The right-handed pitcher was scheduled to start in Saturday’s game.

But suddenly, right before departure, Miller was told that he should stay behind.

“I got told not to get on the flight as we were boarding because there was a chance that I would [come to Chicago],” Miller said.

That would officially start the wildest day of the 26-year-old's life.

As Miller was headed to his 10:10 a.m. flight to Chicago, his ticket didn’t scan. The plane was going to Chicago, so he knew he was in the right spot. Then, he checked his ticket one more time and knew he was in trouble.

“They said, ‘This is the wrong flight,'” Miller said. “Then when I looked it up, [two flights] were leaving at 10:10. I had to go from B17 to C9.”

If you have ever been to the Las Vegas airport, you know the distance between those two points is a hike. So Miller channeled his inner Emmitt Smith and sprinted across the airport, dripping in sweat as the gate agent made the final boarding calls.

“I got my conditioning in, pretty early,” Miller joked. “I was in full sweat, last one on the flight and there were two minutes left. They’re calling my name at the top.”

His sprint paid off. Miller boarded the 4 1/2-hour flight to Chicago and arrived at Guaranteed Rate Field at 6:30 p.m.. Despite the long flight, he was still ready to make his season debut. He stretched, ate a granola bar -- the only thing he ate all day -- and walked out to the bullpen in the first inning repping his Rangers jersey.

Miller -- who was a COVID replacement after Mitch Garver and starter Glenn Otto went on the injured list on Friday -- was called upon in the fourth inning to do the heavy lifting for the Rangers’ bullpen.

Having been scheduled to start for Round Rock Saturday, his arm was ready. So, Miller delivered 2 1/3 innings, giving up just one unearned run on a hit and two walks.

“It was what I expected,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We were trying to get everything we could out of him. Him going those couple of innings really helped us and saved us, and honestly gave us a chance to win the game. He doesn’t have a ton of big league experience, but he looked like he was making pitches. I thought he did great.”

Miller was a fourth-round Draft pick by the Cubs in 2016. He appeared in just two games for them in 2020, one start and one relief appearance. The Rangers eventually claimed the right-hander off waivers on June 4, 2021.

Friday was the first chance that the team got to see who Miller was in the big leagues.

After Miller tossed 2 1/3 innings, he was pleased with his performance and the opportunity he got to make his season debut. It was a hectic day for the pitcher, who was in Vegas, almost missed his flight, and had a strong outing -- all on just a granola bar.

“I was looking forward to this day,” the right-hander said. “I’m happy it went pretty well for the day I had. I’m just powering through it [without food].”