Miller extends run in Hultzen's return
With the return of a familiar face and one of the team's more recent arrivals, Triple-A Tacoma executed a precise win over Las Vegas on Thursday.
Danny Hultzen (4-1), making his first Pacific Coast League start since April 19, surrendered just two hits and a walk while striking out six in six frames en route to the Rainiers' 2-0 shutout of the Las Vegas 51s.
Meanwhile, Brad Miller, who has only been with Tacoma for a month, supplied the offense. The shortstop went 2-for-4 with a home run and extended his hitting streak to 22 games.
"He's fun to watch. Old-school guy, no batting gloves, wears stirrups, it's fun to watch the way he's going now. It's awesome to see a guy like that doing so well," said Hultzen of Miller.
And Miller, for his part, echoed positive sentiments about Hultzen.
"He was awesome. Attacked the zone, threw strikes. It's great to get him back here," he said.
It did prove to be a sweet return for the second-ranked Mariners prospect. Hultzen arrived in Tacoma last season after dominating Double-A Jackson with a 1.19 ERA in 75 1/3 innings. He finished the year with the Rainiers sporting a 5.92 ERA in 48 2/3 frames.
So it was encouraging for Seattle to see the left-hander begin the season 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA, and just as discouraging to see him miss most of the next two months with a shoulder injury.
He had a nice rehab start with the Rookie-level Arizona League Mariners on June 22, though, and said everything felt right again Thursday.
"I got some good work down in Arizona. Now I'm just trying to do what I was doing before, so it was nice to be able to do that, nice to be back competing in Tacoma," he said. "I'm feeling good. It's good not to worry about how my arm feels, just get back to pitching. I want to make sure I finish strong, do my best to prevent any other injury.
"I think any time you miss time, it's hard and it's difficult to watch every day, not being able to be out there. I was taught a lesson, never to take for granted what we're doing."
The 23-year-old now has a 2.20 ERA with 31 strikeouts and seven walks in 28 2/3 innings for the Rainiers.
Miller, in extending his hitting streak, continued his striking first impression for Tacoma.
The No. 6 Mariners prospect hit .294/.379/.471 for Jackson in 42 games before his promotion. He then went 2-for-13 (.154) in his first four games with the Rainiers before going 3-for-7 on May 29 to set off the 22-game hit streak.
He's raised his PCL line in that time to .356/.426/.596 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 26 games.
"It's been fun. I'm just trying to stay at it, hit balls hard," he said. "Basically I'm just being aggressive, trying to execute and go up there with that mind-set and staying on it. That's pretty much been it. To be able to come in and contribute right away has been awesome, been a lot of fun."
Miller's hit streak ranks as the fourth-longest this season, behind the 23-game mark set by Tucson's Chris Owings, Syracuse's Eury Perez and Binghamton's Josh Rodriguez.
Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com.