Wade Flipping Miley.
What else is there to say about Saturday night, about these Orioles?
Miley even added an accidental visual to go hand in hand (or finger in finger). We’ll get to that in a moment.
But if you want to get a sense of how crazy, how unpredictable, how up-is-down goofy this Orioles season has been, all you had to do was watch Saturday’s 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks that propelled the Orioles back into the second AL Wild Card spot with seven games to go.
Miley has been a disappointment since being acquired Aug. 1 from the Seattle Mariners for minor leaguer Ariel Miranda. He was booed off the mound Aug. 19 when he couldn’t get out of the second inning against Houston.
His ERA had been in the sevens. And the one time he looked really good, last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, he was forced from the game after four shutout innings because he felt discomfort in his upper back.
The former Diamondback seemed completely snakebit in his time so far in Baltimore.
And then Saturday happened. And Miley delivered what was arguably one of the best performances by an Orioles pitcher this season: coming one out from a complete game shutout versus the team that drafted him.
Miley matched a career-high for strikeouts with 11. He walked none. He gave up seven hits – three to his old teammate Paul Goldschmidt – and didn’t yield a run until Brandon Drury doubled with two outs in the ninth on Miley’s 116th pitch of the game.
At that point, manager Buck Showalter walked out to the mound to remove his lefty and signal for reliever Tyler Wilson. The 40,610 fans at Camden Yards responded by booing the venerable skipper for not allowing Miley, newly minted Birdland hero, to finish the game.
“They certainly weren’t cheering me,” Showalter joked. “I was thinking about flipping (the baseball) to Tyler about halfway across the outfield and walk off with him. I didn’t think I had enough arm to reach Tyler.”
No, the fans saved their cheers – a standing ovation – for Miley.
“That’s kind of what we play for. That’s the reaction you want,” Miley said. “You obviously want to go out there and do good. And do your job. And it worked out tonight.”
Simply put, Miley said he had improved command Saturday night and that he and catcher Matt Wieters were on the same page from the first pitch. He’s now allowed just one run in his last 12 2/3 innings – basically from the time I declared that he shouldn’t be in the rotation anymore (top-notch analysis there).
Saturday was a tremendous moment of vindication for Miley, who has had a pretty good big league career – mostly with Arizona – but has been ineffective in his last two seasons in Boston, Seattle and now here.
So it seemed particularly fitting that Miley would be caught extending his middle finger while in the dugout in the ninth inning. Really, his one-bird salute could have been directed at anyone, including the baseball gods that have turned the last few months into a nightmare for the 29-year-old.
It had nothing to do with the cosmos, however.
Miley started his post-game press conference immediately explaining what happened. He had made eye contact with his buddy Goldschmidt and flashed him the bird, as a kidding way of saying, “Man, you wore me out.” That was it, nothing deeper.
“The bird thing was all in fun toward Goldy. Let’s not make nothing out of that. It was nothing. I know the questions are coming. There was nothing personal about that,” Miley said. “He’s just so damn good. I just shot him the bird. He made eye contact with me. We have a pretty good relationship, so I think it’s OK.”
And what was Miley’s reaction that it was caught on camera?
“It was like, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me?’” Miley said. “It is what it is. I apologize for anybody that seen that other than Goldy.”
Really, Miley has nothing to apologize for. It was a funny snapshot in what was probably his first truly fun day as an Oriole.
Plus, it fits in perfectly with this season of unpredictable moments.
And the growing legend of Wade Flipping Miley.