August 14, 2013 at 3:11 PM
Memorable night for Brad Miller continued well after game ended
Quite the fun aftermath of last night’s two-homer performance by Brad Miller. He did it, of course, with his own cheering section from Windemere, Fla. sitting in the stands. Miller said he knew of between 40 and 60 family members and friends at the game, but I met up with his father, Steve, afterwards and he told me there were about 200 folks who made the two-hour trip down.
They were all seated in the same section behind the visitors’ dugout last night and erupted with loud noise each time Miller connected. Afterwards, they remained behind and chatted with Miller, who stayed on the field to meet with them long after his teammates had left.
Back at the team hotel, about five minutes’ drive from here, it was a celebratory evening. The Miller clan more or less comandeered a good part of the sprawling hotel bar area, convincing staff to keep the kitchen open, then ordering food and drinks for many of their close friends who joined them. Some of them wore “Miller Time” t-shirts with the No. 5 on them. Miller moved around from group to group, chatting with some of his younger friends as well as those his parents’ age.
This wasn’t some obnxious, overdone reverie. Just a group of people happy to see one another, caught up in the moment and almost disbelieving what they had just witnessed.
A replay of the team’s entire game was showing on the bar’s television sets and the group stopped and cheered at one point as the replay of Miller’s first home run was shown. So, a fun and memorable night for all. Miller’s dad seemed to be soaking it all in, beaming with pride for his son and just in awe of what had transpired. He retold the story to me of how he and Brad had driven to Tropicana Field in 2006 and saw Ben Zobrist hit his first career home run.
Zobrist, of course, hit his 100th and 101st homers last night, joining Miller in a bit of history as only the third group of opposing leadoff men to hit multiple homers in the same game.
Anyhow, it’s back to reality today, with David Price on the mound for the Rays. Miller’s dad and some other supporters were down on the field again to watch batting practice, as you’ll see in the photo on the opposite page.
Raul Ibanez loses the musical outfielder derby, despite his two hits last night. He’s sitting tonight while Michael Saunders is in the game, playing left field. Dustin Ackley is back in center while Michael Morse is again in right field.
Mariners interim manager Robby Thompson said this isn’t a matter of giving Ackley “a chance” to play, but more of just finding time for everybody. Of course, the team has some decisions it needs to make about Ackley, so that’s why he’ll be getting a bigger look in center.
I asked Thompson what the team is specifically looking to see.
“Each and every day he’s going to find different balls that are hit out there,” he said. “We talked about it earlier. About him charging balls to make up for maybe a lack of arm strength. Getting to the ball quicker and getting it to the cutoff man. Going into gaps on balls that are on the ground. And the more he’s out there, the more experience he’s going to get.”