The last time Seattle Mariners rookie Bryce Miller stepped off a major league mound he was closing out an historic debut that cemented his moniker next to the likes of household names like Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasburg. After a 6.0 IP, 2H, 1ER, 10 SO, 0 BB grand entrance, Miller and his Union Soldier Mustache™ wanted to leave not a single doubt behind that he deserved to have his heaters shown on Pitching Ninja or his name mentioned at the top of the hour on SportsCenter.
But there was doubt. Quite a bit of it.
Miller’s dazzling Major League debut came against the Oakland Athletics, a team that in 2023 is known more for their Discount Bin Possum Zoo in the visitor’s broadcast booth than the product they put out on the field. No matter where a fan took in their Mariners news – on Twitter, at the bar, in between innings of your child’s t-ball game – there were whispers that Miller’s debut in Oakland was by design and served up to him on a catered platter of gold and green whimpers, intended to be a soft landing to start his career in the Show.
I mean, yeah, probably.
But that meant that no matter the outcome of his May 2nd debut, the baseball world was going to see his first MLB test more like the 7th grade Math WASL and less like the AP Calculus B/C exam. His first start was merely an amuse-bouche, an appe-teaser, a tasting for the 2,583 in attendance.
The first real test would be today at home in Seattle in front of 42,277 fans and against the reigning World Series Champions and his hometown team, the Houston Astros.
The result ended up being no different for the Mariners today than it was 5 days ago, a win. This time, though, the Mariners tacked on an extra run, making the final outcome 3-1, and Miller tacked an extra mark onto his stat line: W.
Coming into today’s rubber match game, the Mariners and Astros found themselves in similar places. Despite an electric end to the 2022 season, both squads have started the 2023 campaign like a couple of half-deflated birthday balloons at the end of an all-night skate. But no matter how the rest of the season has gone for each team, Seattle and Houston has remained neck-and-neck in the AL West standings and both know that the quickest way to gain traction on an opponent is to beat them in
an academic decathalon: one day, ten events, testing all the knowledge one would gain in high school a head-to-head series.
Miller Makes Mauricio Miss
Despite their record, the Houston Astros continue to act like the younger twin sister and make life difficult. Today they countered Bryce Miller’s magnum opus (his fastball) with just the right Pokemon card to throw down in this type of duel: one of the lowest swing-and-miss rates in the majors.
As mentioned in the ROOT SPORTS pre-game show, this combo meant Miller was going to have to reach deep into his pockets to pull out a few different pitches to keep up with Houston’s lineup. For him this meant his cutter, slider, and a celebrity appearance by his changeup.
Miller’s first test of the afternoon came in the form of Mauricio Dubón, a 28-year old former Boston Red Sox/Milwaukee Brewer/San Francisco Giant-turned Houston Astro who is playing like he wants José Altuve, the man he’s filling in for, to become an afterthought. This season Dubón has slashed .287/.307/.668 paired with an impressive 20-game hitting streak. Oh, and he strikes out less than 96% of other batters in MLB.
For all intents and purposes, the very first matchup of the day – Bryce Miller vs. Mauricio Dubón – was a vibe check. Seattle’s hot n’ ready flamethrower vs. Houston’s infield flavor of the year.
Watch the first section of the clip below to see how it went:
Bryce Miller's second MLB start is another gem for the @Mariners:— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 7, 2023
5 K pic.twitter.com/yg906T7RAZ
Striking out one of baseball’s trickiest batters via fastball?
To quote the esteemed actor, Simba, Bryce Miller said, “I laugh in the face of danger.”
So after 5 days of hearing the “yeah, buts” and “okay, sures” of the doubters, #50 can rest easy tonight knowing he’s officially made it to the show. And he’s, without a doubt, made it here to stay.
Bryce Miller is the 2nd pitcher since at least 1901 to go 6+ IP and allow 2 hits or fewer in each of his first 2 career appearances, joining:— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) May 7, 2023
1997 Ken Cloude…ALSO for SEA https://t.co/DzBzzsyLKt
More Bits From the Game
- Julio Rodríguez unleashed what can only be described as “unholy hell” as he belted the longest home run of his career (454 feet) to straight-away center in the 3rd inning
- Gabe Speier’s scoreless streak came to an end when Kyle Tucker drove in a run at the top of the 7th inning in what would be Houston’s only run of the game
- Justin Topa surprised the fans, the scoresheet, modern history, and maybe even G-d when he was called in to get the save, having to step in for Paul Sewald who had (not) literally pitched his arm off already in the series. Congrats on your first save, Justin!
- All but one Mariner in the lineup got a hit today. I hear that’s good for some free pizza tokens down at Papa Murphy’s.