Miller threw seven pitches in the top of the seventh inning Monday night against Boston, none topping 92 mph. Considering the reliever averages 95 mph on his fastball, it was clear something was amiss.
Sure enough, after walking Mookie Betts and throwing a first-pitch ball to Andrew Benintendi, Miller stepped off the mound, met briefly with manager Terry Francona and an athletic trainer, and left the game. The team said he aggravated the patellar tendinitis in his right knee that sidelined him for most of the month.
Despite the dip in his velocity, Miller said he felt fine until the pitch that walked Betts. He felt the same thing on the first pitch to Andrew Benintendi. During the meeting with Francona and the trainer, Miller asked to come out of the game.
“I wasn’t doing us any favors,” Miller said. “It’s not a situation I want to put the guys in, but I think that it was the right move for me to take myself out of the game. I hope it’s not something that holds me back. Hopefully it’s something that’s just a blip in the whole scheme of things.”
Miller will be reevaluated Tuesday before a determination is made about whether he will return to the disabled list.
With the Indians leading the AL Central, they can afford to be cautious with Miller.
“I’d be lying if we weren’t aware of the standings to some extent. But I want to be here,” Miller said. “I want to be a part of this. We’re not by any means going to coast. It’s frustrating personally. I want to be out there. But certainly the finish line is coming and you concern yourself with that. We’ll see.”
The Indians also lost first baseman Carlos Santana in the seventh inning to lower back tightness.
Miller returned from the disabled list Friday night and pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning against the Kansas City Royals. He has a 1.65 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 54⅔ innings over 48 appearances for the Indians this season.
Before entering the game, Miller had to wait several minutes while second-base umpire Alan Porter replaced Hunter Wendelstedt behind the plate. Wendelstedt was shaken up in the bottom of the sixth inning when Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly threw a warmup pitch that deflected off catcher Christian Vazquez‘s mitt and hit Wendelstedt in the head. Wendelstedt finished the inning before departing.