HOUSTON — The spotlight and scrutiny rarely blinks for Mariners shortstop Brad Miller. Not with Chris Taylor healthy again and playing well at Triple-A Tacoma.
So when Miller commits a couple of throwing errors, as happened earlier this week against the Rangers, the questions — and the concerns — are going to resurface.
Miller just tries to let it wash over him.
“I just had two throws that were a little shaky,” he said, “but that’s how it works. You’re not going to be perfect every time. It’s nothing too extreme.
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“Obviously, you want to make accurate throws, but you’ve just go to keep making plays. I made every play the next day. You just kind of keep going. You can’t get too worked up.”
Miller’s errors Monday and Tuesday, which both came on wild throws, were just his second and third of the season — although he was saved from another possible error or two by first baseman Logan Morrison.
Manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t dismiss Miller’s throwing issues but sees no major reasons for concern.
“It’s just footwork,” McClendon said. “He’s got a good arm. I think, at times, he just forgets his footwork. He’s got to continue to work on it. I think he’s going to be fine because everything is correctable.”
Miller silenced critics, at least somewhat, with a strong showing in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Astros, including a web gem on Jake Marisnick to start the seventh inning.
“It would have been nicer,” Miller conceded, “to do that in a game we won.”
Miller also reached base twice Thursday after hitting into some tough luck against the Rangers.
“If I hit a ball hard,” he said, “I’m not going to take that as a negative. Because then I’m really going to be beating myself up.”
And that, he contends, is a sign of growing maturity and underscored by his strong start. He has a .277/.333/.400 slash through 22 games.
“A year ago,” Miller said, “I’d hit the ball hard, get nothing to show for it, and wonder if I’m gong to hit it hard again.”
The same roll-with-it approach applies to his defense.
“You’re going to have good plays,” he said, “and you’re going to have bad ones. I’m in the middle of everything, and I can’t let that bother me and affect me because, most likely, that ball is going to come back to me again.
“I was happy the next day to get seven or eight balls and get it done. It’s one of those things. You always have to work on your mechanics, your footwork and to make good throws.”
Because the spotlight isn’t going away.
SMITH IN BOOKS
Rookie reliever Carson Smith claimed a niche in the Mariners’ record book by pitching a scoreless eighth inning against the Astros.
Smith now has 18 1/3 scoreless innings to start his career. The previous best in club history was 17 2/3 innings by Mark Lowe in 2006.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen is scheduled to test his recovery from a hyperextended right elbow by throwing about 25 pitches Friday in a bullpen workout.
“Everything feels good,” said Wilhelmsen, who suffered the injury April 11 in Oakland during a pre-game workout. He began playing catch about a week ago.
Wilhelmsen’s tentative timetable, barring setbacks, projects two weeks from the time of his first bullpen workout. If that holds, he should be ready to resume bullpen role in mid-May.
Fernando Rodney completed his own sweep at Texas by saving all three victories at Globe Life Park. He has seven saves overall in eight opportunities.
It marked just the sixth time that a Mariners reliever saved all three victories in a series sweep. Rodney also did it last season from June 20-22 at Kansas City.
Mike Schooler also did twice: July 4-6, 1989 vs. Minnesota at the Kingdome, and Sept. 11-13, 1989 vs. Boston at the Kingdome.
Others to do it: Jose Mesa from July 30-Aug. 1, 1999 vs. Baltimore at Safeco Field; and J.J. Putz from June 8-10, 2007 at San Diego.
Nelson Cruz chose to low-key it earlier this week when asked about his triple Tuesday that produced the first run in a 2-1 victory over the Rangers in the middle game of the Mariners’ sweep.
Cruz sent a slicing drive to deep right field that Jake Smolinski over-ran before leaping against the wall and falling down. The result was Cruz’s 11th career triple in 3,950 plate appearances.
“It’s only when stuff like that happens,” he said. “The guy fell. I’ve got a bad experience with triples. So let’s just keep it what it is.”
The worst moment in Cruz’s on-field career came while playing for Texas in the sixth game of the 2011 World Series. The Rangers were one out away for the title in the sixth game when David Freese hit a drive to deep right.
The ball got over Cruz’s head and caromed off the wall for a two-run triple that tied the game. The Cardinals eventually won the game in extra innings and then won the seventh game.
The Mariners are offering four “peanut-controlled” games in an effort to accommodate individuals who live with severe peanut allergies.
Designated sections (313, 314 and 315) at Safeco Field will be thoroughly cleaned prior to games in a way designed to eliminate traces of peanut products.
All four games are against opponents that reached postseason in 2014: May 9 vs. Oakland, June 23 vs. Kansas City, July 10 vs. Los Angeles Angels and Aug. 11 vs. Baltimore.
The special price for peanut-controlled game is $12 for View Box seats. Tickets can only be purchased online at www.mariners.com/nopeanuts.
Only fans who agree to abide by peanut-free rules will be permitted to buy seats in the designated sections. Concession stands closest to those sections will not sell any food with peanut products as ingredients.
Peanut products will be available in other sections.
Right-hander Edwin Diaz turned in six more shutout innings Wednesday night for Hi-A Bakersfield, although he settled for a no-decision in a 2-1 walk-off victory over Stockton (Athletics).
Diaz, 21, has not allowed a run in four of his five starts and has a 1.44 ERA while giving up just 11 hits in 25 innings. He also has 27 strikeouts and eight walks.
The Mariners selected Diaz in the third round of the 2012 draft, and he entered the season ranked No. 6 on the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects.
***Left-hander Danny Hultzen is scheduled to start Friday for Double-A Jackson against Pensacola (Reds). It will be Hultzen’s first start since undergoing major shoulder surgery on Oct. 1, 2013.
It was 30 years ago Friday — May 1, 1985 — that Jim Beattie out-pitched Boston ace Roger Clemens in a 7-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox at the Kingdome.
Beattie pitched a four-hit complete game. His gem came one day after the birth of his first child.
Jim Presley had a homer and double and three RBIs.
Beattie, now 60, spent seven of his nine big-league seasons with the Mariners from 1980-86. He subsequently received an MBA from Washington in 1989 prior to rejoining the Mariners as their farm director.
After five years in the post, Beattie left the Mariners to become general manager of the Montreal Expos.
Robinson Cano broke an 0-for-18 skid with a singe in the first inning and finished 2-for-5 overall. His streak of 18 hitless at-bats matched a career worst, set in 2005 as a rookie for the Yankees…Third baseman Kyle Seager had eight assists in Thursday’s game. No third baseman this season, prior to Thursday, had more than seven…Felix Hernandez is 4-0 for just the second time in his career. He also won his first four decisions in 2009 — and then lost his next three…Nelson Cruz’s 10 homers have averaged 394.1 feet.
The Mariners and Astros continue their four-game series at 5:10 p.m. Pacific time Friday at Minute Maid Park. Lefty Roenis Elias (0-0, 3.18) will face Houston right-hander Sam Deduno (0-0, 2.89).
You can see the game on Root Sports and hear it on 710 ESPN.