All eyes were on Mason Miller once again in his second major league start, just the twelfth of his career. Once again, he showed about what you’d expect for a 24-year-old rookie with just 33 professional innings under his belt.
Miller utilized his flaming, nasty stuff alongside his tight command to strike out 6 batters and walk just one. Two of those six just happened to be a pair of the best hitters in the world: Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.
Both happened in the bottom of the 1st inning, with Trout coming up first out of the 2-hole an inning after Trout pounded a ground-rule double off Miller just an inning earlier. The 3-time MVP played with a tame 97 mph fastball, a couple of 87 mph sliders, and a pair of 94 mph “Demon” cutters to get Miller into a 2-2 count. The youngster then dialed back for his 6th pitch of the at-bat and got Trout swinging on an easy 99.4 mph four-seamer.
Ohtani didn’t let him have it easy either. With 2 outs in the inning, Ohtani took a cutter in the dirt before fouling off 5 other pitches, mostly four-seamers. And of course what did Miller get Ohtani caught looking on? A four-seamer.
Mason Miller, K'ing Trout & Ohtani in the 2nd. pic.twitter.com/Bf27M8GWAi— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 26, 2023
The biggest takeaway for me for this game was Miller getting a taste of facing the elite of major-league baseball. Expectations for him are sky-high, so if he’s to get close to reaching those expectations, he’ll need to show he can compete with the best of the best. Today, he showed he definitely has the talent and skill to do so.
Unfortunately, he had a little bit of undoing today in that aforementioned 1st inning. Trout’s double kicked off a rally that drove Miller’s pitch count up and got him out of the game earlier than ideal. But it wasn’t much of a result of bad pitching as it was some hits that you could live with. After walking Anthony Rendon with 2 outs, Miller essentially allowed 3 singles, one of which was a soft groundball that split the 1st/2nd base gap and the other which got turned into a triple after an overly zealous Esteury Ruiz dove and missed the catch in center. Two of the pitches that were hit were 100 mph fastballs down in the zone; I can live with the results. Even if those results give the opposing team a 4-1 lead.
Overall, the damage added 4 hits and a walk. Beyond that inning, Miller allowed just one more baserunner in the next three. Despite the mediocre stat lines, the more I see Miller pitch in the major leagues, the better I think his chance is of fulfilling his potential.
As a fun side note, Sam Long made his Oakland A’s debut today after being acquired from the still-crosstown rivals Giants (kinda for Cal Stevenson, but not technically). He was raised in the Sacramento are and was an A’s fan growing up, so this must have been an exciting appearance for him. Welcome to Oakland, Sammy!
New Oakland LHP Sammy Long was an A's fan growing up in the Sacramento area. He just K'd Ohtani in his A's debut pic.twitter.com/GBTCzNoloF— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) April 26, 2023
The A’s lineup put a semi-acceptable showing, scoring 3 runs on a Jace Peterson triple in the 1st, a Shea Langeliers solo shot in the 5th, and a Jordan Diaz RBI double in the 6th.
NOT GONNA ROB SHEA LANGELIERS THIS TIME! #Athletics #RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/n7eKvihHjB— Uprooted (@uprootedoakland) April 26, 2023
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and the A’s lost 5-3. The team’s hilarious streak of not being able to win consecutive games this season lives on. They’ll try to break the streak against the Angels the next couple of days, with Luis Medina making his major league debut.