Ever since Brad Miller was promoted to the Mariners and was given the opportunity to hit leadoff, he has battled to get his legs beneath him and adjust to life as MLB hitter. After two weeks of trial and error and a few days off to think it over, Miller finally showed just why the organization views him so highly in Friday’s wins over Houston.
From the word go, Miller had a confidence about him we had yet to see in his short major league career. He swung at the very first pitch back from the All-Star break and immediately collected a base hit. You would think he would take a few pitches and try to settle back in, but Miller was raring to go and knew he could still won from Bud Norris, who was likely expecting him to take.
His aggressiveness continued, as he flew out to center in his next at-bat in the third. He followed that up with a walk in the fourth. The walk was a heady move on his part, since Dustin Ackley had just double. He could have tried to be super aggressive against Norris’ questionable command, but he let the pitches come to him like a veteran and earned the base on balls.
He saved his best swing of the night for his fourth plate appearance in the sixth. With a runner at first and two outs, he pounced on a 2-0 fastball and obliterated it into the second deck in right for his first major league home run. As Mike Blowers pointed out, Miller had a similar 2-0 fastball from Norris in his last trip to the plate and fouled it off before later walking. This time, he knew what was coming and made Norris pay.
In case you thought he was done, Miller tacked on a three-run jack in the eighth off of Josh Fields. Yes, Mariners’ first round pick Josh Fields. That’s hilarious in and of itself. Fields was determined not to walk a third consecutive batter, and so 3-2, Miller made the correct read of fastball middle-middle. He swung and deposited it two rows up into the right field seats. Sure, both of his big flies came on fastballs over the plate, but the kind of pitch recognition he showed is just what a young major leaguer needs. As Dave Sims said, “have a night, young rookie.”
Miller had a night, and in the process, solidified his status as the Mariners leadoff hitter. He also locked up their shortstop spot with a gem of a double play turned with fellow rookie Nick Franklin. He showed exceptional range and how many rookies have the confidence to go glove flip in that situation? The list, I’d imagine, is quite small. All in all, it’s pretty clear Miller is here to stay and we should all enjoy the ride into the second half of 2013 and beyond.