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World Series 2001
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10/10/2001 01:02 AM ET
Leach: Miller masterful
By Matthew Leach
MLB.com
Larry Dierker shows his displeasure during his press conference after Game 1.
  • More on the Series ...

    Hey, remember early in the Braves-Astros game, when the starters were in?

    Greg Maddux and Wade Miller pitched nice games, Maddux lasting six innings and Miller a gutty seven. But it's hard to remember such a well-pitched game in which the starters were so easily forgotten.

    Naturally, Larry Dierker will hear plenty of questions about his choice to bring in Mike Jackson to pitch the eighth inning. But what other choices did he have? He could have gone to Billy Wagner ... who hasn't gone more than one inning in a game since May. He could have gone to workhorse Octavio Dotel, but with Dave Mlicki going Wednesday, who knows how many innings Houston will need from its bullpen?

    Besides, Dotel has given up 12 walks and two homers in his last 14 1/3 innings. Dierker could have gone to Nelson Cruz and Mike Williams, they of the 6.30 and 6.52 ERAs, respectively, since Sept. 1. The bullpen situation for Houston has been grim of late.

    Grim, that is, with the exception of Wagner. And Wagner gave up the big blow: Chipper Jones' three-run homer. And in that matchup, what more could you want as an Astros fan? Wagner had dominated Jones, with the third baseman going 0-for-8 with six Ks before today.

    As for the starters ...
    Maddux was the opposite of the Maddux stereotype in the early going. He had crazy movement on his pitches -- they were darting all over the place. But Maddux didn't seem to have optimal command in the first few innings. Maddux threw first-pitch balls to five of the first seven hitters he faced.

    Still, somehow you just knew he'd get those key double plays.

    After that, Maddux started to look like he was in control. And that's when he lost the lead. In fairness, you'll take your chances with Brad Ausmus pretty much any time.

    Miller pitched a fantastic game, dispelling the notion that young pitchers can't succeed in the postseason. After some early trouble, he hung in beautifully, keeping the Astros in the game and allowing them to take the lead.

    The beauty of Miller's performance was his efficiency. He got through seven innings on just 92 pitches, and that was key since he was pitching on three days rest. It was absolutely the right call to pinch-hit for him, with a runner on, one out and Orlando Merced having an excellent year as a pinch-hitter. However, Miller could have gone another inning. He hit 94 on the gun in his last inning.

    And another kid
    In addition to the Joneses, don't forget Marcus Giles. Giles reached base twice, had a couple of very nice at-bats, scored two runs and turned a pair of double plays. He looked right at home out there, and that will be a big help for an Atlanta team that's been decimated up the middle by injuries.

    Atlanta? A bench?
    Braves reserves went 3-for-6 in the game. Keith Lockhart doubled off Mike Jackson in the eighth, and Steve Torrealba doubled off Mike Williams in the ninth. Don't count on that continuing, but it's a nice start for a team that rarely has any sock off the pine.

    Matthew Leach is an editor-at-large for MLB.com