D-backs’ Miley on a roll since rediscovering form

PHOENIX — Wade Miley’s three-run double in the second inning of the Diamondbacks’ 11-1 win over the Rockies on Saturday thrilled the Chase Field crowd more than anything else during the left-hander’s night, but the D-backs are almost certainly more excited about the roll he’s been on the past month.

After a dreadful May seemed to land him in manager Kirk Gibson’s doghouse, Miley appears to have rediscovered the form that made him so effective in his rookie season.

“I’m just trying to go after guys, just trying to keep us in ballgames,” Miley said, hesistant to give himself much credit. “If we score five, just keep (opponents) to four — that’s my mentality right now. I’m not trying to do too much, just trying to go out and give the team a chance to win.”

The difference in Miley the past month has been significant. After allowing seven runs in three of four starts in the second half of May, Miley was essentially on notice.

“I’m not going to let him go out and keep doing that,” Gibson said after Miley allowed seven runs in a loss to the Cubs on May 31.

That comment might never have gotten back to Miley, but either way, he has responded. Since that game, Miley has gone seven straight starts without allowing more than three runs. He’s had a little hard luck in that stretch, going just 2-2, but with a 2.66 ERA in that span, he has given the D-backs a chance to win every one of those starts.

On Saturday, Miley held the Rockies to one run on five hits over eight innings. In the process, he set a new career high for scoreless innings, running his total to 13 2/3 innings before allowing a solo home run to Carlos Gonzalez in the seventh inning.

It’s efficiency like that the D-backs’ rotation has lacked for most of the season — outside All-Star lefty Patrick Corbin, of course. It’s also more like what the D-backs expected from Miley after a stellar rookie campaign.

“He had a good two-seamer tonight, able to get movement on his fastball,” Gibson said. “He was really efficient with his pitches, his pitch count. That’s kind of what we needed again to get that bullpen rested.”

Added Miley: “I’m just not thinking, just going out there trying to pitch.”

That sounds like the Miley of 2012, the Miley that didn’t seem fazed by much of anything and had success by keeping it simple. The Miley that struggled early this season appeared at times less confident in his command and caught up in being too perfect on the mound.

If the D-backs are to hang on to their lead in the NL West, which stood at 4 1/2 games after Saturday’s win, they will likely need more consistency from the entire starting rotation, but getting Miley going is a good start.

Miley said he has “no idea” what’s been behind his resurgence the past month, but Gibson offered a few reasons for Miley’s recent success.

“His mechanics are better, he’s not fighting himself as much,” Gibson said. “He’s able to throw the ball to either side.”

Pitching figures to be the difference in what should be a tight division race. The Dodgers struck first Saturday in what could be an arms race between NL West contenders, acquiring Ricky Nolasco from the Marlins. The Giants and D-backs are also reported to be interested in upgrading their rotations.

But if the Diamondbacks can get this kind of performance out of Miley regularly and if young starters Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado can keep pitching well as both did their last time out, they might find much less of a need for outside help.