Economical Miller yields one hit

Brewers prospect throws 61 pitches over seven innings

Matt Miller leads the Pioneer League in wins and is fourth in ERA. (Bill Mitchell/Four Seam Images)

By Alex Raskin / Special to | July 31, 2010 8:10 PM

It took 4 1/2 hours and 15 innings for the Helena Brewers to beat the Great Falls Voyagers on Thursday night.

Helena won Saturday's game in less than half the time, thanks to Matt Miller's dominant performance.

The 2010 fifth-round pick allowed one hit -- a fifth-inning double by Oliver Santos -- over seven shutout frames as the Brewers edged the Billings Mustangs, 3-2, in 1 hour and 58 minutes.

"This is definitely a first for me, throwing 61 pitches in seven innings," Miller said. "It helps having [shortstop Carlos George] making a couple of nice plays and the outfield coming up with a couple of nice balls."

Nine of the 18 outs Miller recorded came on the ground, while seven were flyouts. He struck out one and walked one.

"I like to get a lot of ground balls, letting my defense work for me," he said. "I liked the way it worked out today. If it's a good game, I'm going to take it."

Miller retired nine of the first 10 batters before hitting Dayne Read in the fourth. He plunked two more Mustangs.

"On the first one, I tried to go up and in. I just went a little too far in, I got a little loose," the University of Michigan product said. "Then I came back and was able to get a ground ball after that."

Miller nearly paid for his control issues in the fifth, but his defense was able to keep Billings off the scoreboard. After the 21-year-old right-hander hit Devin Lohman to begin the inning, second baseman Shea Vucinich turned Donald Lutz's grounder into a double play. Santos doubled before Miller hit Chris Berset.

Fortunately for the Helena starter, Billy Hamilton grounded out to Vucinich to end the frame.

"My defense really stepped up for me when I needed them to," Miller said.

The Indiana native retired the final six batters he faced to improve to 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA. In addition to winning with grounders and popouts, Miller has the ability to miss bats. The 6-foot-6 righty has 31 strikeouts in eight starts and fanned eight over five innings in a June 29 win over the Mustangs.

"I go for the strikeout when I have the opportunity," he said.

Thanks to the rapidity with which he dismissed the Mustangs, Miller had more time to spend with his parents, who were visiting from Indiana.

"They had a couple of connections," he said. "It's a little tough getting out here."

Jimmy Nelson earned the save, despite allowing two runs on three hits over two innings.

Although it was originally ruled foul, Brent Dean's third-inning homer gave Helena a 1-0 lead. John Dishon hit an RBI triple in the fifth and later scored on a balk by Stalin Gerson.

Alex Raskin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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