Three of the four runs Miller allowed scored in the second, an inning in which Oklahoma City sent eight batters to the plate. A double and four singles pushed Houston's Triple-A affiliate out to an early lead. Miller was tagged for another run in the third. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter.
The decision to start Miller in Triple-A was influenced both by what he did last year and by what he showed the Cardinals' staff this spring. Miller began Spring Training in Major League camp, where he was able to make two Grapefruit League starts. And as March progressed, the Cardinals saw Miller's velocity tick northward, the same way it had as he pitched deeper into spring last year.
And then there were his 2011 numbers in Double-A to consider. Miller, named the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year each of the past two seasons, posted a 9-3 record and 2.70 ERA in 16 starts for Springfield last year. He struck out 89 in 86 2/3 innings.
"He was borderline dominant there, so the feeling was that there really was nothing left for him to do there, so let's go ahead and give him an opportunity [in Triple-A]," farm director John Vuch said. "It's going to be a challenge for him. We don't expect him to just walk in and dominate there, but we do think it will be a good experience for him."