Home News Bryce Miller allows 11 hits, 2 homers vs. Yankees

Bryce Miller allows 11 hits, 2 homers vs. Yankees

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SEATTLE — Bryce Miller, at some point, was bound to come down to Earth from the meteoric start to his Major League career. It was just the abruptness in which it unfolded that stood out most when it finally happened on Monday night.

Miller was ambushed for 11 hits and eight earned runs, more than any start in his pro career, which put the Mariners in too massive a hole to dig out of in a 10-4 loss to the Yankees at T-Mobile Park. And the culprits to his struggles were among those that he’d avoided in a historic five-start stretch since his epic debut on May 2: hard-hit balls and home runs.

“Obviously, my confidence was up,” Miller said. “I just didn’t make the pitches I needed to make, and they put them in play and they fell. It happens. I’m moving on.”

Miller was tagged by Aaron Judge for a 116.9 mph two-run drive off the left-field foul pole in the third inning, the second hardest-hit homer at T-Mobile Park since Statcast came online in 2015. He also surrendered a solo homer by Jake Bauers, a member of the 2021 Mariners, to lead off the fourth. The rookie had faced 120 batters without allowing a homer before the one from Judge, who also took reliever Juan Then deep in the sixth.

Both homers against Miller were against his fastball and in full counts, which forced him to turn to his secondary stuff more — and, really, the only time other than his third outing in Detroit. He entered Monday throwing the heater 70.5% of the time, per Statcast, yet seemingly no one could handle it — until the Yankees, who reached base seven times in 12 plate appearances ending against Miller’s four-seamer. 

“I was kind of all over the place with the fastball, command-wise,” Miller said. “It wasn’t where it’s been the last couple weeks.”

It was a stark showing compared to an otherwise epic May, for which Miller probably will still be in consideration for American League Rookie of the Month honors. Miller entered the night leading 146 pitchers with at least 30 innings in ERA (1.15), opposing batting average (.123), OPS (.315) and WHIP (0.51). 

He twice faced Oakland — winners of only 11 games, six fewer than any other team — but he also impressed against defending champion Houston and in a hostile environment in Atlanta. That said, the Mariners always knew there’d be an eventual speed bump. There typically always is for rookie starters, especially for one who relies so heavily on one specific pitch.

So, what went wrong and why?

Judge timed him up
The reigning AL MVP saw one fastball in his first at-bat, right down Broadway, and he skied a popout. His second time up, Miller went more offspeed, generating a massive hack on a first-pitch curveball. After falling behind, he tried to blow his high-riding heater by Judge. But, with the pitch at 93.8 mph and in his wheelhouse, Judge unloaded. 

“Probably the most center-cut fastball I threw was the first one, the first at-bat, and he popped it up,” Miller said. “And then the next two at-bats, I had him in finish counts, and I just didn’t finish.”

Fastball too predictable
Beyond command, Miller lacked the elite ride on his heater that’s made it already one of the game’s best. He generated just four whiffs among the 29 swings against it, and the Yankees crushed it for eight of their 12 hard-hit balls on Monday. 

“The ones that I was throwing, I wasn’t at the top of the zone like I need to be, and it just kind of led into throwing more offspeed,” Miller said. “I made some good pitches, but I’ve got to make better ones.”

Secondary pitches caught too much plate
The Yanks tagged Miller for three doubles in the fifth, all against his curveball. Judge ambushed one. Willie Calhoun followed with another into the right-field corner. Finally, Isiah Kiner-Falefa ended Miller’s night by ripping one past a diving Eugenio Suárez. The latter two curves were lower in the zone but middle.

“It was just inconsistent,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Miller’s breaking balls. “There were some that were down, some that were left up that they got on. But his bread and butter is the fastball. It kind of gets the game going for him. It sets everything up.”

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