ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Trever Miller, a key Rays reliever, said he has "no idea" why he's struggled to find the strike zone his past three outings.
The 35-year-old veteran said he's feeling fine physically, but also feels the urgency to fix his command issues quickly.
In Miller's last three appearances, he's recorded just one out while walking five (one intentional) and giving up six earned runs. Miller had walked just 11 in his first 41 games this season.
"That's the job I'm in — three bad outings, your season can be ruined," Miller said. "That's where I'm at right now, walking that fence, and I don't like it. I'm letting the team down. … I'm not going to sleep well tonight."
On Tuesday, Miller entered in the eighth with the Rays down 3-1 to the A's. He walked two, threw a wild pitch and gave up an RBI double to Kurt Suzuki. RHP Al Reyes relieved and gave up a hit and an earned run. By the end of Oakland's rally, the Rays were down 7-1.
Others are struggling too. As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, the Rays' bullpen — which was one of the team's biggest strengths in its remarkable first-half run — has a 7.26 ERA in its last 12 games, giving up 25 earned runs in 31 innings.
"Nobody can afford to pitch behind in the count, but I'm not a power pitcher," Miller said. "Right now I feel like I'm just throwing the ball, instead of pitching it to where the spots (are), hitting the mitt. I'm uncomfortable with that. It's not an easy feeling for me right now. … I'll work as hard as I can to get this thing worked out."
Miller said he's eager to go over some tape today, to see if there's a small mechanical adjustment he can make. The crafty lefty has been one of the Rays' most reliable relievers this season — entering Tuesday's game, he ranked second in the American League in efficiency, having allowed just three of 21 inherited runners to score (14.3 percent).
"(He's) just a little bit off with his command," manager Joe Maddon said. "We'll continue to stay with him. He's done a great job all season, it's just one of those moments he's going through right now. He'll work through it. He's a pro."
MEDICAL MATTERS: Maddon said SS Jason Bartlett (sprained right knee) felt good again Tuesday, and it's possible he could be activated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday, the first game of the Royals series in Kansas City. … RHP Gary Glover, on the 15-day DL with a strained left calf, threw off the mound to hitters and said everything felt fine. With his DL stint retroactive to July 11, Glover could serve the minimum time.
BECKHAM BROTHERS: Top pick SS Tim Beckham has struggled for Princeton, hitting .174 and committing five errors in his first 19 games in the Appalachian League. However, his older brother, Jeremy, was promoted to Hudson Valley. The Rays' 17th-round pick out of Georgia Southern hit .260 in his first 18 games with Princeton.
MINOR MATTERS: Bulls RHP Jeremy Cummings was added to the U.S. Olympic team. Cummings, 31, who signed with the Rays in May, made the Triple-A All-Star Game and is 7-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 13 starts.
MISCELLANY: OF Rocco Baldelli played DH in a rehab stint with Montgomery, going 1-for-4 with two runs. … A's rookie reliever Brad Ziegler threw two scoreless innings to give him 232/3 consecutive scoreless innings to begin his career, an AL record.
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.