Orioles' Miley hopes to turn things around against Twins (Jul 08, 2017)
MINNEAPOLIS -- Wade Miley carried a 2.82 ERA through his first start in June when he beat the Boston Red Sox with seven innings of one-run ball.
Miley's season has taken a big, unwanted turn since then, but the left-hander is getting another chance to prove himself to the Baltimore Orioles before the All-Star break.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said Miley will start Saturday's game in Minnesota even with right-hander Chris Tillman expected to be activated off the paternity leave list.
"I don't think there's anything that two shutout innings in his first two innings wouldn't do for him," Showalter said. "This guy was stat'ed up about the first third of the season with just about anyone in the American League, so it's in there. We feel like from his responses, there's an excuse there if he wants to take it, but he said, physically, he wished that was it."
Showalter seemed to express Miley's recent issues are more of a mental challenge than anything physical.
"He said, 'I don't want to run away from this thing, I want to take it on. I'd really like to see if I can get something under my belt before the break and feel good about it,'" Showalter said. "Out of all the things that could possibly happen good for the Orioles, that was the one we thought had the best return on it."
Miley (3-7, 5.20 ERA) will match up against Minnesota rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia (4-3, 4.32), who is coming off one of his best starts of the season
The Twins have taken the first two games of the four-game, weekend series and the first five games between the teams this season after Friday's come-from-behind 9-6 victory. Baltimore has lost five games in a row and seven of its past eight.
"It's baseball. We all struggle some way or another," said Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who had four hits, including two homers, in Friday's loss. "We go 0 for 30, pitchers can get rocked all day, it's just part of the game. This is what we're going through right now, and it's just going to make us stronger down the line."
Baltimore is hoping Miley is stronger down the line if he can get back on track Saturday.
Over his last six starts, Miley is 1-4 with an 11.69 ERA. He's failed to make it past the third inning in three of the games and has topped out at 5 2/3 innings during the stretch. In his last outing, Miley last just 1 2/3 innings while giving up seven runs to the Milwaukee Brewers.
"I didn't give us a chance," Miley said after the game. "I pretty much blew that one early on. First and second inning, to let them get out to a big lead like that just set the tempo for the other team. It can't happen. It can't continue to happen. Some adjustments have to be made."
Miley has started one game in his career against the Twins and allowed five runs in four innings.
Mejia has made adjustments after his own slide. He's allowed three runs over his last three starts, spanning 17 2/3 innings. He pitched seven innings with three runs surrendered in his last outing against the Los Angeles Angels, earning his third straight win.
"Really just being calm, relaxed, being able to throw strikes," Mejia said through an interpreter of his last three starts. "Tell myself to throw strikes is what really has kept me focused."
Manager Paul Molitor has seen the change.
"I just think he's starting to trust that his stuff can play up here," Molitor said. "It's nice when he's using all his pitches. The changeup's obviously is a good pitch. But the slider when he stays on top, we saw some good swings and misses down and in to the righties. But, yeah, I think that the more success that comes his way in terms of going deeper in games and putting wins next to his names, I think he feels better about what he's doing."
Mejia has never faced the Orioles.
Saturday could be the major league debut of outfielder Zack Granite. Minnesota recalled Granite from Triple-A Rochester following Friday's game. Granite was recently named the International League player of the month and a Triple-A All-Star.
Granite will be making his major league debut after hitting .360 with 14 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 24 RBIs, 40 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 59 games this season for Rochester.
"A little bit of a reward for maybe being the best player in that league right now," Molitor said. "It will just supplement us here. We're in position, roster-wise, to add a position player here. We're pretty well protected with pitching going into the break, and coming out of it, so we'll just have to see how that plays out in terms of length and duration and how much of an opportunity he's going to get."