07/11/12 1:02 AM ET
Miley's All-Star experience a winning one
D-backs' rookie left-hander faces two batters in ninth inning
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
As far as Miley is concerned, he won when he stepped onto the field for the first time as a member of the National League All-Stars, and he was victorious again a few hours later, after he and his teammates cruised to an 8-0 win over the American League in the 83rd All-Star Game.
The fact that he pitched in the ninth inning to help preserve the shutout was a bonus. The biggest prize was securing home-field advantage for the NL for the World Series, and a close second would be the friendship he established with boyhood hero Chipper Jones.
"I was happy to represent the National League and be with the guys in this locker room," Miley said. "It was Chipper's last one, and to be a part of it was unbelievable."
Miley gave up a leadoff single to Minnesota's Joe Mauer, a shot up the middle that forced Miley to duck. The next batter, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, hit a ground ball to Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who tossed the ball to Houston's Jose Altuve to force out Mauer at second base for the first out of the inning.
As expected, Miley did not face another hitter. His replacement, Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan, struck out Kansas City's Billy Butler for the second out, and Philadelphia's Jonathan Papelbon retired Baltimore's Matt Wieters to end the game with Andrus on third base.
"I felt bad if it was going to be me giving up the only run when we're shutting out the American League, but we had two guys behind me, Hanrahan and Papelbon, that are pretty good at what they do," Miley said.
Miley threw only 11 pitches, but they are 11 pitches he will never forget -- for many reasons.
"I was scared there for a second when I had that ball hit right back in my face, but that's what you get when you leave a breaking ball over the plate at 1-2, especially if Joe Mauer is hitting," he said with a smile.
Miley arrived on Sunday and spent the evening with his wife, parents, in-laws and grandparents. He also caught up with his good friend and former Minor League teammate, Oakland All-Star Ryan Cook. Monday was a whirlwind of media interviews, workouts and the State Farm Home Run Derby. In between he signed more baseballs, posters and jerseys than he can remember. He also had Jones sign a few baseballs.
On Tuesday, Miley rode down the red carpet and was introduced in front of thousands of screaming fans at Kauffman Stadium, fulfilling a childhood dream. He watched the game with his new buddies and enjoyed every minute of it.
"I was just picking their brains," Miley said. "It's just pretty cool to be in the same dugout and locker room with everybody."
The most exciting moment of the All-Star Game experience?
"Just being with these guys at the level they're at," Miley said. "They are the elite of the elite, and I'm sharing a locker room with them. I don't have words for it. It's been special, and something I will never forget."
The most interesting conversation?
"I picked Cole Hamels' brain, trying to learn the cutter a little bit," Miley said. "You get what you can get out of here. But I'm keeping it in my pocket."
And who was the funniest player on the NL roster?
"A lot of these guys are pretty funny," he said. "Hanrahan is a pretty funny guy. Everybody is fun to talk to."
Funny business aside, Miley and the D-backs will resume play on Friday against the Cubs in Chicago. The D-backs are in third place in the NL West, four games behind the division-leading Dodgers.
"I have to wipe this away, right now," Miley said. "When I walk out of here, it's time to be locked in and focused and know we have a big second half coming up. It's time for us to go."
But it will be hard to blame Miley if thinks about his first All-Star experience every now and then.
"It's something that I will never forget," he said. "The first person I shook hands with as I walked off the field was Chipper Jones. That was like a dream. You are walking off the field, and you see him on the top step."