Confident Miller dominates Cubs to salvage doubleheader

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Cubs didn’t send a lineup full of everyday starters to Salt River Fields on Thursday night, but they sent the prodigious Kyle Schwarber and put him in the leadoff spot to greet Shelby Miller.

Naturally, Schwarber put together a nine-pitch at-bat to begin the doubleheader nightcap. Schwarber fouled off a number of pitches and watched a couple others narrowly dart out of the strike zone before he popped out.

“I don’t think he usually leads off,” Miller said. “He was definitely frustrating me a little bit out there, wondering what I needed to throw him to get him out earlier in the count.”

Winning that battle off the top set the stage of a fairly dominant second start of the spring for the Diamondbacks right-hander in an eventual 3-1 victory.

Miller struck out six — more than once hitting 97 mph on the in-stadium radar gun and 99 mph on MLB’s Advance Media gun — and allowed just an infield single in three shutout innings.

“He was just outstanding in every way tonight,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s nice to see him in that place. … He’s everywhere you’d want him to be at this point in spring training.”

A leaner, always-positive Miller is coming off the worst season of his career, in which he went 3-12, and is looking for a second chance at a first impression following the controversial trade that brought him to Arizona before the 2016 season.

“My confidence is where it needs to be,” said Miller, who has nine strikeouts in five innings this spring. “I still have some things I need to work o and stuff I need to stay true to. Mentally and physically and my confidence is good. It’s going to stay that way, stay positive.”

As for those radar readings, was he throwing that hard?

“I have no idea,” he said with a smile. “I felt good. It felt like it, (based) off some of the swings they took. That’s kind of how you judge it.”

“It’s definitely a possibility,” Miller added, followed by another smile.

D-BACKS 3, CUBS 1

Jason Pridie launched a three-run home run in the second inning and five of the six D-backs pitchers to follow Miller did not allow a baserunner as Arizona avoided the day-night sweep.

PADRES 9, D-BACKS 6

Archie Bradley bounced back from a rough first appearance this spring and pitched three scoreless inning in the first game of the day, striking out four.

“He threw the ball very, very well,” Lovullo told MLB.com of Bradley. “He was aggressive with several pitches. He threw some key pitches in key moments to get back into counts. It was exactly what I know he had hoped for, and was exciting to watch from the side.”

Catcher Oscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer and Nick Ahmed drove in a pair with a double.