It took Adam Miller a bit longer than he expected to get his first start of the season with the Buffalo Bisons.
But when he finally got on the mound, he helped deliver a win.
Miller, the top pitching prospect in the Cleveland Indians' organization, scattered 10 hits over six innings to help pace the Buffalo Bisons to an 8-3 win over the Ottawa Lynx on Monday afternoon. About 300 fans braved the 35-degree temperatures at Dunn Tire Park as the team played its home opener four days late.
"It definitely felt good to pitch," Miller said. "The cold made it difficult to hold the ball and to get good command. It really didn't feel that bad for the first three innings or so. . . . I'd say I was average. We got the win, but there's more behind that."
It was just the second Triple-A start for Miller, who made a spot start for the Bisons late last season. The Tribe's No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, Miller spent 2006 with Double-A Akron, earning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors. He also was named the Indians' Minor League Pitcher of the Year -- an honor he also picked up in 2004, when he split time with Single-A Lake County and Kinston.
He gave up a run in the first inning when Ron Calloway hit a one-out double then scored on a single by Gary Burnham.
But Buffalo answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning to secure some breathing room.
"Honestly, sometimes it's better to have a 1-0 or 0-0 game when everything still counts," Miller said. "I'll take a 4-1 lead but sometimes you can get complacent."
Still, his teammates felt that the run support was a positive for the 23-year-old right-hander.
"I think it really helped Adam," said third baseman Keith Ginter, who went 3 for 4 with an RBI and run scored. "He's a young pitcher who has a lot of pressure on him to perform and falls behind 1-0. We scored four and then we basically handed him the game after that. All we needed to do was catch some balls behind him -- which with the cold we didn't do as well as we should have."
Indeed, Buffalo committed three errors -- including back-to-back by second baseman Hector Luna and shortstop Luis Rivas in the third.
The Herd had a 5-1 lead at that point, when Luna's throwing error allowed a run to score. Rivas' error then loaded the bases with one out, but Miller pitched out of the jam. He got Lou Collier to ground out and then struck out Jason Jaramillo.
Miller again faced a bases-loaded situation in the fifth, which started when he issued a two-out walk to Burnham, then gave up two singles. He then got Jaramillo to fly out to left to end the inning.
"It was a tough outing for him," Herd manager Torey Lovullo said. "But he came up with big pitches when he needed to and that's what championship pitchers do."
Miller threw a total of 89 pitches -- a rather high count for six innings of work, complicated by spotty fielding in the cold weather -- with 60 for strikes.
Buffalo got all the offense it needed in the first inning. The Herd tied the game when Rivas tripled to the gap in right-center field, driving home Ben Francisco. Rivas then scored on a single by Shin-Soo Choo to give the Herd a 2-1 lead. A sacrifice fly by Luna to left-center scored Choo, then Ryan Mulhern dropped in a single to score Ginter.
Every Bison except designated hitter Jason Cooper had at least one hit, with Francisco, Rivas, Luna and Brad Snyder each notching two.
Luna had the first home run of the season for the Herd -- a shot to left field on the first pitch of the bottom of the third that extended the lead to 6-2.
The Pitch: Miller gets first win at Triple-A, giving up 10 hits and three runs in six innings. . . . Ginter goes 3 for 4 with an RBI and run scored. . . . Luna hits first homer of the year.
Fast fact: Bisons are 13-7 in home openers at Dunn Tire Park.
Next game: Today vs. Ottawa, 1 p.m. (Kids' Week)