October 5, 2022

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Miley impresses in blink-and-you-miss-it start

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CHICAGO — There was a point in Monday’s game against the Pirates when Cubs manager David Ross wanted to discuss something quickly with bench coach Andy Green. He waited until after lefty Wade Miley fired a pitch.

After their brief chat, Ross turned back to the field and had already missed another pitch from Miley.

“I think every staff should have a couple of those guys,” Ross said after the Cubs’ 9-0 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. “I feel like it’s a real advantage when you have that pace. Hitters want to be comfortable and you’re not against him. He’s ready to throw.”

In his second start off the injured list, after dealing with a left elbow issue, Miley showed off his rapid-fire pace in seven brilliant innings. The veteran set down the first 14 batters he faced in order, did not issue a walk, struck out six and allowed just one hit in an 83-pitch performance.

That lone hit surrendered by the veteran came off the bat of Pittsburgh’s Michael Chavis, who was doing what he could to disrupt Miley’s rhythm. During his fifth-inning at-bat, Chavis called for a timeout multiple times, including on a 2-1 count.

“He was just rushing through everything,” Chavis said. “So I just needed more time.”

On that particular pitch, Miley was already in his throwing motion and finished his delivery. He fired a pitch just above the strike zone and immediately began barking in frustration. It was clear that Ross and other coaches in the dugout were not thrilled, either.

Cubs catcher Yan Gomes made it clear that “you don’t fault Chavis” for that approach. Against a swift-working, crafty veteran like Miley, hitters will try to mess with his timing by stepping out or calling time. Miley just did not think home-plate umpire Dan Bellino had to oblige in every situation.

“I just told Dan that was a little late. The second one was a little late,” Miley said of the initial 2-1 pitch. “I’m already in my leg kick when I hear you start screaming. You don’t have to give him time. I was just letting Dan know that.”

The next 2-1 offering from Miley was a changeup over the outer edge of the zone. Chavis got the bat to the ball and pulled it into left field for a single, ending the pitcher’s bid at perfection. Miley set down the last seven batters he faced in order.

“Wade was just making really good quality pitches,” Gomes said. “It was a good swing, good hit, but it was off the end. It’s just one of those things. It’s just more frustrating that it kind of happened in that way.”

That moment felt like it carried more weight, given that it broke up a perfect game, and the collective boos from the Wrigley Field faithful certainly supported that notion. That said, Ross agreed with Gomes and Miley that Chavis was not at fault.

“I think you’re going to see that with Wade,” Ross said. “When we competed against him in Cincinnati, everybody’s going to do that, because hitters want to be comfortable and they’ve got their routine. He’s got to be used to that by now.”

The Cubs will hope to get used to more outings like that from Miley.

Over the past seven games, Chicago’s rotation has turned in a 2.45 ERA as a group. That is without Marcus Stroman (injured list) and includes a bullpen day and Miley’s first, rusty start off the IL.

“It’s cool to feed off that,” Miley said. “You just want to continue to keep that streak going. And whoever’s next, get in there and do the same thing. That’s how you go on little runs. It’s fun to be a part of.”

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