MIAMI – Wade Miley’s teammates pointed at him from the dugout and Miley cracked a smile when he stood atop second base.
Sure, everyone knows how well he can pitch. This was a chance to show his athletic side.
After the Miami Marlins opted to intentionally walk Max Schrock to put two runners on base with two outs in the fourth inning Friday, Miley slapped a first-pitch cutter down the third-base line for an RBI double.
"He calls a homer every time he goes up to the plate, but we’ll take the double," Reds manager David Bell said, laughing. "We’re waiting for the homer to come."
Miley outscored the Marlins by himself during the Cincinnati Reds’ 6-0 victory at loanDepot park. The Reds have won all five of their games against Miami this season and 10 of their last 11, dating back to the 2019 season.
The Reds, improving to 12 games above .500 to match a season-high, sit two games ahead of the San Diego Padres in the wild-card race.
With the way Miley was pitching – tossing seven shutout innings – the Reds gave him more than enough run support during a four-run fourth inning. After Joey Votto hit a leadoff double, Mike Moustakas laced an RBI double over the right fielder’s head on a ball with a 111-mph exit velocity. Moustakas added a 427-foot solo homer in the eighth inning, a no-doubter to right field.
Marlins starting pitcher Zach Thompson tossed nine consecutive strikes to begin the fourth inning before the automatic intentional walk to face Miley with two outs. Miley entered with a .149 batting average, but this was a challenge he accepted.
"Their pitcher just hit a double off of me," Miley said, "so I just wanted to get him back."
Miley delivered his second double of the season and his first RBI since 2014.
"I tried to pull it and it went the other way," Miley said. "I’m not going to complain."
Said Bell: "Amazing when you don’t see your starting pitcher as an out. He goes up there and he has a shot every single time he goes to the plate. It’s not always an RBI necessarily or a home run, but just getting a base hit, having a tough at-bat can really make a difference in a game."
The inning snowballed on the Marlins when shortstop Miguel Rojas overthrew first base on a routine ground ball, enabling two runs to score on the error. Miley walked through the high-five line in the dugout after scoring and then Eugenio Suárez circled back to him to congratulate him again.
Miley pitched only 4 2/3 innings against the Marlins last weekend, frustrated when he was pulled from the game after 88 pitches. There was no need to think about taking him off the mound Friday. Miley didn’t allow a runner to touch third base against him.
"I just didn’t run into that one inning that I ran into the other day where I kind of lost command of the baseball," Miley said. "It wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be, but we executed pitches when we needed to, got contact when we needed to. We opened it up there midway through the game and it became a little easier to pitch with that lead."
Miley didn’t have any 1-2-3 innings, but he didn’t mind pitching with a runner on base. Miley surrendered six hits and one walk, striking out five in 109 pitches. It was the most pitches he’s thrown in a start except for his no-hitter in Cleveland (114).
"I felt like there were opportunities to have quick innings and I just kept making bad pitches in certain situations and it would cost me," Miley said. "I told (pitching coach Derek Johnson), I should’ve had three 10-pitch innings and it turned into 20-22 pitch innings."
Tyler Naquin extended his 16-game hitting streak in the first inning when he muscled a 92-mph fastball over the right-field fence. In a ballpark filled with only 7,119 fans, the sound of Naquin’s bat made it evident where the ball was headed.
It was Naquin’s 19th home run of the season. He has 10 multi-hit games during his hitting streak. Since Jesse Winker went on the 10-day injured list with an intercostal strain, Naquin has provided a huge lift at the top of the lineup.
"Not only is Naq playing (well), but he’s even hitting in the spot that Wink typically hits in the order," Bell said. "He’s made the absolute most of that."
Naquin is the reigning National League player of the week, in part from the damage he inflicted on Marlins pitchers at Great American Ball Park in their four-game series, and perhaps he’s eyeing a repeat.
He added a double down the left-field line in his next at-bat and a single in his fourth at-bat, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. No Reds player has hit for the cycle since Eric Davis on June 2, 1989.
In five games against Miami in the last nine days, Naquin is 11-for-19 with four doubles, a triple, four homers and eight runs.
Miley and the Reds' offense worked quickly against Miami. They completed the game in two hours, 28 minutes.
"I feel like we’re going to win every day," Miley said. "When you get that feeling, especially this late down the stretch, it’s just really special to be a part of."