It’s taken Wade Miley nearly one-half of the current season to regain a form which generated glory just two years ago.
That’s when the Diamondbacks’ left-hander finished second in the National League rookie-of-the-year balloting and drew raves as a significant starter of the future. Yet, over the last season and one-half, inconsistency and a penchant to try and be perfect on every pitch compromised Miley’s potential ascendancy.
Last season, Miley experienced bouts of unpredictability and his record fell from 16-11 two years ago to an even 10-10 last season.
Coming into spring training, Miley was considered a possible number three starter behind Patrick Corbin and Brandon McCarthy. After Corbin went down with Tommy John surgery in mid-March, Miley received a hurry-up call from manager Kirk Gibson and named the D-backs’ opening day starter against the Dodgers in Sydney, Australia.
Starting off the season winning two of his first three decisions, Miley dramatically hit the wall. From April 12 to July 6, he managed only one win in 15 starts but now has picked himself off the mat.
With a 9-3 triumph over the Chicago Cubs before 32,528 Saturday night in Chase Field, Miley recorded his third straight win and is 3-0 (1.89 ERA) in his last four starts. In the process, he evened his season-mark to 6-6 but his ERA remains above four runs per game (4.16).
“I’m making more quality pitches and getting ahead of guys,” Miley said. “I just want to compete and keep us in the game.”
While his post-game comments Saturday were few, others embellished on Miley’s recent success.
“He’s much more consistent,” offered manager Kirk Gibson. “He’s real focused on the task at hand and able to go after and attack hitters.”
With the victory Saturday, the Diamondbacks opened the second half with two straight wins and that is the first time since 2007 they put together consecutive wins following the break.
In what appeared déjà vu, the Diamondbacks took a page from Friday night’s win to grab another come-from-behind victory. In this one, they were down 1-0 and 3-1 but put together a four-spot in the fifth and another two in the sixth to forge into the lead. Through their half of the fifth, the Diamondbacks rung up eight, unanswered runs to put this on in the win column.
The rally in the fifth was triggered by a three-run, bases-clearing double from Miguel Montero into the right field corner. Gerardo Parra added the fourth run in the frame when he singled in Montero. A double from Paul Goldschmidt and single off the bat of Mark Trumbo produced two more in the sixth.
In the eighth, Goldschmidt delivered a towering blast half-way up the bleachers in left field for his 18th home run of the season and finished with a 3-for-3 night, three runs scored, two extra base hits and three RBIs.
“You want to get a good pitch and just try and have good at-bats,” Goldschmidt said afterward. “We did fall behind but able to come back. That’s a couple wins in a row now and we’ll try and keep it going.”
Over the final three plus innings, Miley went into cruise control. The 27-year-old from Hammond, La. finished with seven innings of work, allowed three runs on seven hits, walked one and fanned seven hitters. Relievers Evan Marshall and Oliver Perez then made sure Miley secured his third straight win.
“When you can get runs off of multi-hit efforts, that’s ideal,” Gibson said. “For his effort, Wade settled down and the offense was able to go from that. Good win all around.”
Rightfielder Cody Ross left the game after the second inning in what the Diamondbacks described as tightness in his left calf.
The discomfort occurred when Ross ran out a single to lead off the second. Immediately, he was replaced by Gerardo Parra, who followed Ross with a 1-for-3 night.
“It looks more like a cramp,” said Gibson. “We’ll see how he feels (Sunday).”
The Cubs’ series ends with a Sunday matinee at 1:10 p.m.
Right-hander Josh Collmenter (7-5, 3.80 ERA) gets the ball from Gibson and draws righty Jake Arrieta (5-1, 1.95 ERA) as his mound opponent.
Since May 1, Arrieta’s ERA of 1.95 is the second lowest in the majors behind the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.81). This will be Arrieta’s first career start against the Diamondbacks.