Shelby Miller picks up victory in second major league start

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It wasn’t the prettiest outing, but Shelby Miller was awarded a victory Saturday in his 2013 regular season debut against the Giants — a 6-3 Cards win.

The talented 22-year-old righty went 5 1/3 innings, yielding two earned runs on four hits and four walks. He struck out four batters, tossing 57 of his 95 pitches for strikes before giving way to the Cardinals bullpen in the sixth inning. Randy Choate finished that frame and Mitchell Boggs eventually closed it out with a clean ninth inning, earning his first save.

Miller boasts a power fastball and improving offspeed stuff. He’s been ranked a Top 15 prospect by Baseball America for the past three years and has to be considered an early NL Rookie of the Year candidate.

The Cardinals are 2-3 on the season. They’ll wrap up their weekend series with the Giants on Sunday.

Miller owns a 1.89 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 20/8 K/BB ratio through his first 19 career big league innings.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.

The Rays gave Seth Smith a little league homer last night

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:

Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.

Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.

Watch:

 

I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.

Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.