Shelby Miller Shines In First Major League Start

Last night’s 1-0 St. Louis Cardinals victory over the Cincinnati Reds didn’t necessarily mean much.

The post-season schedule was determined earlier in the afternoon when the Washington Nationals clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs, setting up the National League Division Series match-ups. The game time for tomorrow’s wild card playoff was announced hours before as well. (It’s 4 p.m. Central in case you haven’t heard yet.)

But the win was plenty meaningful.

And Shelby Miller’s first major league start was almost something to really remember — even though the 42,000-plus who were at Busch Stadium and those watching on television won’t soon forget it.

It’s not often a starting pitcher has one hit, let alone two, before he gives one up to the opposition. Yet that’s exactly what happened. Shelby doubled in his first at-bat in the third and singled in the fifth — yet the Reds first hit, and only one he allowed, was a two-out single over Ryan Jackson’s head by Wilson Valdez in the sixth.

In addition to shutting down the Reds offense, Shelby also struck out seven — including five straight in the fourth and fifth innings: Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen and Drew Stubbs (with a Ryan Hanigan hit-by-pitch between the latter two).

It was quite a night for the Cardinals 2009 top draft pick — and quite a night for the Cards farm system overall. The starting nine all came up through the St. Louis system: Adron Chambers, Shane Robinson, Skip Schumaker (yes, he was batting third), Matt Carpenter, Tony Cruz, Bryan Anderson (at first base!), Jackson (at second!), Pete Kozma (of course!) and Miller.

For those who love following the minor leagues and watching the prospects, great fun indeed. And Adron Chambers led off the night for the Cardinals doing something the entire Pirates team couldn’t do against Homer Bailey last Friday: get a hit. The Cards actually had nine hits on the night against a succession of Reds pitchers but it wasn’t until the eighth inning, when Shane Robinson beat out an infield single, that they managed to score the game’s only run on a single by Matt Carpenter.

Another highlight of the night came the inning before, when Lance Berkman appeared in the on-deck circle with two outs. Given that Pete Kozma was batting, of course he singled — which brought LB to the plate. Take a look at what happened.

Yes, I will admit it, I cried — and especially after seeing him make it all the way down to purposely touch first base. After the game, he told Jim Hayes of Fox Sports Midwest that he hadn’t talked to Mike Matheny about it beforehand. “He pretty much made me do it. I didn’t want to do it, but he thought it would be good. So I gave in and I’m glad I did because it was such a warm ovation. It was great.”

Jenifer Langosch has more from both Matheny and LB:

“He didn’t think it was going to be all that big of a deal,” Matheny said. “He thought he might walk out there and hear crickets.”

Not a chance.

The reception, which included a standing ovation from the crowd and everyone in the Cardinals’ dugout, was resounding. Berkman doffed his helmet and later waved his hand in appreciation. After grounding out, he jogged into the dugout while fans continued their applause.

“It was a very nice moment for me being out there and really just a chance to tip my hat to the crowd — a great city, a great group of fans,” Berkman said. “Obviously, I’ve just enjoyed the heck out of my time here. That was one of those mutual thank yous. I really just wanted to thank the crowd and the city of St. Louis. I’m glad I got a chance to put on the Cardinal uniform.

“It’s pretty emotional, it definitely is for me. But looking back on it, I’m sure I’ll really appreciate it more as I go along.”

While that in all likelihood was his final Cardinals at-bat, it could have been his last career at-bat as well.

There was another milestone achieved last night too, in the top of the ninth inning. While Marc Rzepczynski struck out Votto for the first out (following an error by Anderson at first — although, as mentioned on Fox Midwest, Anderson had played exactly one inning there before), Jason Motte then entered the game. He easily retired the final two Reds on ground-outs to earn his 42nd save — which ties him with Craig Kimbrel of the Braves for the National League lead. But there was more to the save than just the number, as Langosch wrote:

This also marks the first time in franchise history that one player has collected every team save. “I told Mike [Matheny] last night that, ‘For you to believe in me every single time, whether good or bad. … it’s pretty cool for you to have my back,'” Motte said.

So, with that, Game 162 and the 2012 regular season ended.

Now it’s onto tomorrow and the wild card playoff game against the Braves in Atlanta. As mentioned, game time is 4 p.m. Central on TBS. The starters are Kyle Lohse and Kris Medlen — and the winner moves onto face the Washington Nationals in the NLDS on Sunday.

Big game?

To say the least.


Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

4 thoughts on “Shelby Miller Shines In First Major League Start

  1. I cried no fewer than 4 times last night… It started with some tears (and goosebumps) when the fans sang the National Anthem, as has become tradition at the last regular season home game. I kinda teared up again when Shelby got the ovation for getting through 5.2 innings of no-hit baseball. For all he went through this season, just wow! And, he did it against the starting 9 of Cincinnati. Of course the biggest tears came when Puma came up to bat. As a member of the Lance Berkman Fan Club, the tears lasted the whole at bat, including him going down to 1st. I always tear up at the “Some Nights” video of fan reactions, so that’s nothing new, although last night, it seemed more special, as I wondered if we’d see it again and knowing, even if we did, it probably wouldn’t be the same… My last tears came as I walked out of Busch. I have tickets for Sunday, should the Cards make it there. I really hope they do. I’m just not ready to let go of this season or this team. 🙂

  2. I cried no fewer than 4 times last night… It started with some tears (and goosebumps) when the fans sang the National Anthem, as has become tradition at the last regular season home game. I kinda teared up again when Shelby got the ovation for getting through 5.2 innings of no-hit baseball. For all he went through this season, just wow! And, he did it against the starting 9 of Cincinnati. Of course the biggest tears came when Puma came up to bat. As a member of the Lance Berkman Fan Club, the tears lasted the whole at bat, including him going down to 1st. I always tear up at the “Some Nights” video of fan reactions, so that’s nothing new, although last night, it seemed more special, as I wondered if we’d see it again and knowing, even if we did, it probably wouldn’t be the same… My last tears came as I walked out of Busch. I have tickets for Sunday, should the Cards make it there. I really hope they do. I’m just not ready to let go of this season or this team. 🙂

  3. I have to echo the previous comments. There were tears a plenty for me last night as well. I laughed with the boys with their antics in the dugout and cried at the times mentioned above. I totally lost my mind when I saw Berkman come out on deck and prayed that Kozma would get a hit to allow Lance his last at bat. I’ve said before that God loves the Big Puma because it all fell into place, even though a home run would’ve been more Hollywood. It was still good for my heart to get to see Lance take one final at bat and even make the pained jog all the way to 1st. Thank you Mike Matheny for being a class act and making that moment happen. (And now I’m tearing up just writing the comment.)

    Last night was a night of hoping I’d be back in the stands Sunday for more baseball and yet trying to take everything in just in case it was the last time I got to see my boys play in person this season. I loved seeing the “kids” start the game though there were a few times at the beginning when I was starting to yell encouragement on a play and had to stop and think who it was in the field about to make that play. Seems pretty amazing that one of my pet peeves with LaRussa was never knowing which 8 he’d trot onto the field and yet with Matheny lately we’ve had our core 8 out there. I like being able to rattle off a starting lineup without having to qualify who was starting against the lefty on the odd-numbered day of the month when the moon was in Aquarius and the wind was blowing from the West.

    But I digress. I actually tweeted a thanks to Jeff Luhnow last night because it’s thanks to him that we had such outstanding “secondary” players to start game 162. Because of that I do hold hope for Houston that Jeff will be able to work some kind of magic for them. I’ve questioned a few of his picks but last night proved that he did a very good job for the Cardinals. So thanks again, Jeff Luhnow. I appreciate your brilliance.

    I believe last night showed for the Cardinals, to quote a classic song, the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

  4. I have to echo the previous comments. There were tears a plenty for me last night as well. I laughed with the boys with their antics in the dugout and cried at the times mentioned above. I totally lost my mind when I saw Berkman come out on deck and prayed that Kozma would get a hit to allow Lance his last at bat. I’ve said before that God loves the Big Puma because it all fell into place, even though a home run would’ve been more Hollywood. It was still good for my heart to get to see Lance take one final at bat and even make the pained jog all the way to 1st. Thank you Mike Matheny for being a class act and making that moment happen. (And now I’m tearing up just writing the comment.)

    Last night was a night of hoping I’d be back in the stands Sunday for more baseball and yet trying to take everything in just in case it was the last time I got to see my boys play in person this season. I loved seeing the “kids” start the game though there were a few times at the beginning when I was starting to yell encouragement on a play and had to stop and think who it was in the field about to make that play. Seems pretty amazing that one of my pet peeves with LaRussa was never knowing which 8 he’d trot onto the field and yet with Matheny lately we’ve had our core 8 out there. I like being able to rattle off a starting lineup without having to qualify who was starting against the lefty on the odd-numbered day of the month when the moon was in Aquarius and the wind was blowing from the West.

    But I digress. I actually tweeted a thanks to Jeff Luhnow last night because it’s thanks to him that we had such outstanding “secondary” players to start game 162. Because of that I do hold hope for Houston that Jeff will be able to work some kind of magic for them. I’ve questioned a few of his picks but last night proved that he did a very good job for the Cardinals. So thanks again, Jeff Luhnow. I appreciate your brilliance.

    I believe last night showed for the Cardinals, to quote a classic song, the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

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