Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Behind the Box Score: Andrew Miller's sweeping slider

The deceptive delivery and deadly arsenal of Andrew Miller shut down the Seattle Mariners in the critical moments of a tightly contested ballgame. The IBI's John Alfes examines the lankly lefty's best offering...

CLEVELAND – The Seattle Mariners breathed a sigh of relief as Danny Salazar finally exited Saturday's game after convincingly setting down 10 of the last 11 hitters he faced without allowing a hit over his final 5.1 innings of work.

For once, Scott Servais’ club thought they might have a chance to score against a pitcher without “Salazar” stitched onto the back of his navy blue uniform.

Not against Andrew Miller.

The bearded beast of a southpaw struck out three of the five hitters he faced to set the stage for Cody Allen’s fifth save in the ninth.

Seventeen of Miller’s 29 pitches were sliders, averaging 83.5-mph and resulting in two swinging strikes and five called strikes. Zero sliders were put into play…

Miller features his sweeping slider at a usage rate of 61.4% in 2017, well above his career average of 31%. The 31-year-old leaned on the pitch at a 58.6% clip on Saturday to account for two his four strikeouts on the late afternoon...

Andrew Miller vs. Taylor Motter (called strike three on a 3-2 slider)

Pitch Velocity: 83.9-mph

Andrew Miller vs. Jean Segura (swinging strike three on a 1-2 fastball)

Pitch Velocity: 97.3-mph

Andrew Miller vs. Ben Gamel (called strike three on a 1-2 slider)

Pitch Velocity: 83.6-mph

Andrew Miller vs. Robinson Cano (swinging strike three on a 1-2 slider)

Pitch Velocity: 83.6-mph

From an 84-mph slider at the knees to a 97-mph fastball at the hips – Miller was nearly unhittable.

When the moment called for it, Miller was able to reach back for a little extra and blow a heater by Segura, one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball.

When a grueling at-bat with Motter reached a seventh pitch, Miller was able to spin his slider at the string of the strike zone.

When Cano looked for a pitch in his wheelhouse on the inner half of the plate, Miller was able to hit his target low-and-away on four straight occasions to punch out the seven-time All-Star with conviction.

In other words, Andrew Miller took over the contest when the opposition was in dire need of a spark on the offensive side of the ball.

“In a situation like that where it’s a one-run game, you kind of have to pitch to the scoreboard,” said Francona. “You can see Andrew really compete. I mean his stuff is what it is, it’s good. But his level of competitiveness really rises as he goes. That’s fun to watch.”

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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