Miller finds footing -- and win -- after slow start

Miller finds footing -- and win -- after slow start

PHOENIX -- There's no question that Friday night was a big start for D-backs right-hander Shelby Miller.

Granted, it was just his first of the season, but given his massive struggles in 2016 -- 3-12 record and a 6.15 ERA after the D-backs paid a high price to get him from the Braves -- a poor outing could easily have started a chorus of "here we go again."

Instead, Miller gutted through 5 1/3 innings while allowing three runs as the D-backs beat the Indians, 7-3, at Chase Field.

Miller got the win, something he did not accomplish in 10 home starts last year, when his ERA was 7.39 at Chase. Overall, his first victory did not come until his seventh start last year.

"I think from that standpoint it was very uplifting for Shelby to get off to a good start," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "Given what happen last year, I know that he's very focused and energized for a positive year this year and he deserves a lot of credit for working hard behind the scenes to make those moments happen."

Miller gave up a homer to Francisco Lindor in the first and then allowed a two-run single through an over-shifted infield to Carlos Santana in the second. Of the first 10 batters he faced, four got hits and two walked.

"Getting into a 3-0 hole, I was locked in the whole time, but I just kind of rebounded a little bit in the dugout thinking to myself what I needed to do to get these guys out because they were on my stuff pretty good early," Miller said. "I knew if I'd just go out there and put up zeroes that we had a chance to win the game or get back into it at least."

Miller began working his curveball in more to keep the Indians from sitting on his fastball.

"He started throwing his pitches for strikes," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The first couple innings there, he was scattering some pitches and we had real good at-bats. And then, his stuff is good, and he started commanding and he got a lot tougher."

After those first 10 hitters, Miller went on to allow just one hit and a walk to the next 15 batters he faced.

While his fastball was electric just as it was during Spring Training, as he hit 98 mph at one point in the first inning, it was the curve that turned out to be the equalizer.

"Moving forward it'll probably be a huge pitch for me this year," Miller said.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.