RICHMOND, Va. - It is rare when a pitcher surrenders five runs in a single inning, then somehow still winds up on the winning side of things in the end.
Andrew Miller managed to do just that last night in Richmond.
Miller, on a rehab assignment from Detroit, was making his first-ever start for the Mud Hens. He was tagged for five runs on four hits and three walks but was still able to exchange winning high-fives with his teammates as Toledo turned back the Braves 8-7 at The Diamond.
The 22-year-old former first-round pick (sixth overall) in the 2006 draft, began the game on a strict 75-pitch limit and almost tossed half of those (39 pitches) in that ugly first frame before settling down and finding his stride in the following two
"It felt good to get back on the mound, that's for sure," said Miller. "At the beginning it felt like everything was kind of going real fast and I was rushing. But once I got settled in a little bit, things seemed to go better."
Miller, the 2006 Baseball America national player of the year and the Roger Clemens Award winner as the nation's top collegiate pitcher (University of North Carolina), was placed on the disabled list by the Tigers on Aug. 4 with a strained hamstring and last night's game was the first real test of that left leg.
"He was a little gassed out in that first [inning]. He threw a lot of pitches so we had somebody up all ready," Mud Hens manager Mike Rojas said. "We've got to be real careful what we do with him, especially with a pulled hammy."
Richmond starter Trey Hodges also tossed 39 pitches in the first inning but escaped virtually unscathed thanks to a spectacular catch by Braves right fielder Doug Clark of a sinking line drive off the bat of Brent Clevlen. The catch kept at least two runs from scoring because the bases were full with two outs.
"We could have broken it open right there but he made a great play," Rojas said.
The Mud Hens instead were content to break the game open in the next inning against Hodges.
Toledo sent nine men to the plate in the second, pushing six runs across on four hits - all coming with two outs - highlighted by a three-run home run by Mike Hessman, to put Toledo back on top 7-5. It was Hessman's 28th homer of the season.
The Hens added what turned out to be a huge run in the fourth on a Timo Perez sacrifice fly that scored Ramon Santiago.
Richmond scratched out two runs in the fifth to pull within one but Jason Karnuth, Joel
Zumaya and Jose Capellan each tossed a scoreless inning of relief to preserve the win.
The teams meet again at 7 tonight.