Wade Miley was a picture of perfection early on against the Angels Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The Red Sox can only hope they copy the stunningly resurgent turnaround of Wade Miley.
The lefty has suddenly turned into the most reliable and consistent pitcher on staff. On Sunday, that encouraging trend continued when he allowed just four hits and one run over eight stellar innings in a 6-1 win over the Angels at a sun-splashed Fenway Park.
It was a perfect day for a game and Miley gave fans a perfect start to their Sunday afternoon, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before walking Chris Iannetta on five pitches in the fifth. That was followed up by a single from C.J. Cron, who had been called back to hit after a pitch was ruled to have struck his bat by the umpiring crew.
Miley (4-4) has won each of his last three starts and is 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA in May. Sunday, he took just 45 minutes to race through four perfect innings. He needed just 48 pitches to get through five innings. Where did Miley learn his fast pace?
“Probably college, my college coach was huge on that,” Miley said, referring to Southeastern Louisiana pitching coach Daniel Latham. “It’s kind of stuck with me.”
The Angels, who had never faced him before, were aiding the cause of Miley and catcher Sandy Leon by swinging early and often.
“They’re a pretty aggressive team and we kind of used that to our advantage and it worked out,” Miley said. “That’s the biggest thing, being able to throw the fastball. And what Sandy did, it felt like every time he put down a finger, it’s what I wanted to do. We were on the same page from the first inning on.”
“It comes down to fastball command. Even he when he’s gotten a couple of guys on base, he hasn’t overthrown as we saw maybe back in April,” skipper John Farrell added. “He’s turned things around personally this month. That’s pretty clear. He’s back to a quick pace but a comfortable one for him, and he’s commanding his pitches.”
As the game progressed, and Miley was working to protect a 3-1 lead, he got some Gold Glove defense from Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt in the seventh. Pedroia robbed David Freese on a spinorama move up the middle while Holt robbed Iannetta on the next pitch. It was Holt who also took a vicious grounder off the left forearm in the eighth.
“It was good. The defense was unbelievable. Some of those plays that Brock and Pedey made were pretty incredible. I was able to throw strikes, move the ball back and forth and just got some outs,” Miley said. “I didn’t there was any chance Pedroia was getting to that ball up the middle and he makes the acrobatic play. Next play, Brock lays out and makes a play. It’s good to know those guys are back there. Obviously, I knew coming over here they were unbelievable in defense.”
Miley didn’t get the complete game but could savor the all-around effort the Red Sox showed in all phases, including another monstrous homer from Mike Napoli.
“It was a good game, fun game to be a part of and Nap’s seeing the ball right now,” Miley said. “It’s fun to watch him up there hitting. We’re moving guys [on bases] and getting guys in. It’s definitely fun.”
As for overcoming his 1-4 start, Miley said he’s not worried about what he can’t change.
“It is what it is. The beginning of the season is over and behind me,” Miley said. “You just have to look to the future. You can’t do nothing about the past, correct some things and move on. I think we’re always ready [for a roll]. Anytime you get on a roll is good. I think everybody looks forward to that. Definitely, we’re playing a lot better right now.”
“It was well executed in every phase,” Farrell added. “We played outstanding infield defense. Wade Miley, in combination with good defense, he works so quick. He was efficient. He threw 48 pitches through first five innings.”