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Diamondbacks 5, Marlins 9: Not Ready for Prime Time

Shelby Miller is finally back pitching in the major leagues, but some iffy fastball command and some umpirical whimsy ensured that tonight was not his night…

6,105 in attendance at Marlins Park tonight. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

I was kind of worried about what I was going to get when I realized that Shelby’s first post-Tommy John surgery start was going to fall on my recap day. I was guardedly hopeful, though, because in 2016 and 2017 I recapped a couple of Miller starts, and I recall seeing some bright spots and having some hope, especially last year. He was so roundly reviled by our fan base throughout 2016 that I wound up feeling bad for him, and have wanted to root for him whenever he takes the mound for us. So that’s where my head was at going into today’s game.

The game started somewhat ominously, with John Jay and Goldy seeing all of four pitches between them as the Marlins recorded two quick outs. Jake Lamb, hitting in the three spot tonight, didn’t show much more patience than that, but that’s because the third pitch he saw from Marlins’ starter Dan Straily went to the low-inside quadrant of the strike zone. You know, Jake’s happy place.

Daniel Descalso popped out to second to end the inning, though he did hang a nice 8-pitch at bat on Straily before doing so. 1-0 D-BACKS

The bottom of the first was something of a carbon copy of the top half…Shelby Miller retired the first two batters he faced, before running the count full on Marlins first baseman Justin Bour and giving up a homer to right. He induced Starlin Castro to fly out to right to end the inning. Miller didn’t seem particularly sharp, though his fastball velocity was encouraging, staying in the 94-96 mph range. It took him 22 pitches to retire his first four batters. 1-1 TIE

Happily, the Diamondbacks retook the lead in the top of the second, thanks to Straily grazing Chris Owings for a one-out HBP. Jerrod Dyson followed with an excuse-me swing on an 0-2 pitch that snuck through the infield for a single to left. Jeff Mathis then stroked a solid single into left center to score Owings and bring Dyson around to third. Shelby Miller came to bat from the first time since last April, and after staring at two strikes pretty much down the middle, roused himself a bit, fouling off a pitch and taking a couple of balls before swatting a fly ball to shallow left field that turned out to be deep enough for Dyson to tag and score. 3-1 D-BACKS

Miller pitched around a lead-off walk to start the second to retire the Marlins quietly. Again, though, it took him 21 pitches to retire the four batters he faced in this inning.

Goldy led off the third inning with a single to center. Lamb followed with a high, slow chopper to Starlin Castro at second, who threw to shortstop JT Riddle for the force on Goldschmidt. Goldy beat the throw, however, so we had runners on first and second with nobody out. The Lamb grounder was on odd play in that it was scored a fielder’s choice, even though no out was recorded; Lamb wasn’t awarded an infield hit, and Castro wasn’t charged with an error. I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed a play being scored that way before. Weird. Anyway, Dan Straily suddenly decided to settle down, and retired Descalso, Marte, and Owings in order to end the threat.

Miller ran into more trouble in the bottom of the third, giving up a first-pitch double to Dan Straily. He retired Darrell Dietrich on a weak flare to Goldschmidt, then surrendered a single to right to Marlins right fielder Brian Anderson. He ran the count full on Justin Bour in a tense at bat before catching him looking at an inside strike. He wouldn’t escape unscathed, though, as Starlin Castro singled to center, driving in Straily. JT Riddle struck out looking to end the inning. 3-2 D-BACKS

Dan Straily seemed suddenly locked in, needing only eight pitches to set the Diamondbacks down in order in the fourth. Miller’s difficulties continued in the bottom of the frame as he gave up a leadoff single to Miguel Rojas, who advanced to second on a Lewis Brinson groundout. Miller then struck out catcher Brian Holaday for the second out of the inning, before running the count full to Straily. He threw the seventh pitch of the at bat an inch or two off the outside edge, a pitch which home plate umpire Adam Hamari had been calling a strike all night, for both starters, whether a lefty or righty was at the plate. Inexplicably, Hamari chose to call the pitch ball four this time, even as Mathis had come out of his crouch and he and Miller had begun to head to the dugout. But no. Bases loaded.

Miller had been shaky all night, to be fair, and he was already at 84 pitches, so he was kinda running on fumes, but that call just shattered him, I think. He threw one pitch to Dietrch, who smacked it sharply to right for a single that scored Rojas from second. That was enough for Torey Lovullo, who gave Miller the hook and brought in TJ McFarland. McFarland promptly gave up a double to Brian Anderson that drove in Straily and Dietrich, before striking out Bour to stop the bleeding. 5-3 MIAMI

McFarland cruised through the next two innings, setting the Marlins in order. Sadly, our offense had gone to sleep as well, as Straily retired seven of the last eight he faced before being pulled for former Diamondback Brad Ziegler. Braden Shipley retired the top of the Marlins’ order in the seventh, and came out to pitch the eighth. It did not go nearly so well, as the first six batters Shipley faced reached base, with three singles, two walks, and then a third single. I’m honestly not sure why Shipley was left in…I think there was a problem with the bullpen phone or something. Anyway, he finally turned it around, retiring the guys he’d faced the previous inning, in order, to put a stop to it. 9-4 MIAMI

Which was a pity, as the bats finally roused themselves a bit in the top of the ninth. Marte led off with a triple to center, which Owings immediately followed with a double to nearly exactly the same spot. He advanced to third on Dyson’s groundout to first, and scored on a Mathis sac fly to left. David Peralta came in to pinch hit and drew a walk, but alas, that was all she wrote, as John Jay grounded out to third to end the rally and the game.

Win probability

courtesy of FanGraphs

Packard Caribbean Convertible: Jake Lamb, +10.9% WPA
Packard Focus: Jeff Mathis, +4.4% WPA
Packard Yard Car: Shelby Miller, -18.4 WPA

Surprisingly lively Game Day Thread tonight, with 581 comments from 30 different commenters. Pretty robust for a Monday. Present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, BobDolio, DBacksEurope, DORRITO, DeadManG, Desert_Devil, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, Renin, Rockkstarr12, SenSurround, ShirtOffYourBack, Turambar, Wesley Baier, aldma, asteroid, david.munter, edbigghead, gamepass, hotclaws, lildbackfan21x, onedotfive, shoewizard, since_98, smartplays, and suroeste.

CotG goes to edbigghead, I think, in part because of the comment itself but also for the excellent thread that hived off as a result of it:

Thanks for reading, and let’s hope for better luck tomorrow. Go D-Backs!