Shelby Miller appears to have found his form at just the right time.
Riding a 14-inning scoreless streak, Miller looks to help the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals continue their playoff push Saturday night against the road-challenged Colorado Rockies.While Miller (9-9, 3.83 ERA) has proven inconsistent this season, he seems to be on the right track with October creeping up. The right-hander has compiled a 0.86 ERA in his last three starts while holding opponents to a .143 average."It looks like a different guy right now," manager Mike Matheny told MLB's official website.Miller threw seven innings of three-hit ball for the second time in as many outings in Monday's 5-0 victory at Cincinnati, snapping a six-start winless stretch. Miller, who's issued 3.83 walks per nine innings -- one of baseball's worst marks -- didn't issue any free passes for just the third time in his 28 starts.He credits an improved breaking ball for much of his recent success."I'm not saying it's the best pitch ever right now, but mixing it up is a big thing," he said. "It's a pitch that I have a good feel for and we're using it. ... Obviously, I want to be strong this last month of the regular season."Miller lasted just 2 2/3 innings in a 10-5 loss at Colorado on June 24, yielding three runs, six hits and five walks. However, he struck out a career-high 13 in a one-hitter in his only other appearance against the Rockies, a 3-0 victory May 10, 2013.The Cardinals (81-67) remain 2 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh in the Central after taking Friday's opener 5-1, their first win in four games. Adam Wainwright earned his MLB best-tying 18th win and Matt Holliday went 2 for 4 with a three-run homer."Mistakes tend to go far, we've seen it when he was with us," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Holliday's 467-foot blast.Holliday, who spent the first five years of his career with Colorado, is batting .452 with seven homers, seven doubles and 26 RBIs over an 18-game stretch against his former team. St. Louis has taken 20 of 28 from the Rockies, including 12 of the last 15 at home.The Rockies (59-88) have managed three runs in losing the first four of a six-game trip. Colorado has dropped 32 of 37 away from home, including nine of its last 10.The Rockies have scored two runs or fewer in each of those 10 road games for the longest such stretch since the New York Mets in 1963. They're one away from matching the 1942 Boston Braves for the longest streak in MLB history.Franklin Morales (6-7, 5.21) is looking to build on his first win in nearly two months, 6-0 over San Diego on Sunday. The left-hander combined with three relievers on a six-hitter after striking out six over six innings.Morales served up a three-run homer to Matt Adams over two innings of relief in an 8-0 defeat June 23, his second appearance against the Cardinals and first since 2010.Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau is uncertain to be available after exiting Friday with left intercostal soreness. He's hitting .315 to rank second in the league.
Shelby Miller has thrown a fastball down in or bellow the strike zone 59.6 percent of the time this year, which ranks forth among qualified starters. Charlie Blackmon has a .417 batting average in at bats that end in fastballs in that zone, which ranks third among qualified hitters this year.