Bobby Miller’s major league honeymoon is officially over.
For him and the Dodgers, Saturday marked a swift crash back to reality.
In a 15-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants, Miller was charged with seven runs in 5⅔ innings, unable to overpower hitters with his fastball, fool them with his breaking pitches or escape high-leverage jams the way he had during his first month in the big leagues.
Instead, after entering the night with a 3-0 record and 0.78 ERA in his first four career starts, the 24-year-old former first-round pick faced his first bout of MLB adversity — giving up four runs in the fifth inning, then being part of a five-run outburst in the sixth.
And on a night the Dodgers suffered their most lopsided defeat in nearly a decade, and fell to 12-17 over their last 29 games, no one else on the team was able to save him.
“There’s things that we have to do better when things aren’t going well,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Little things, the execution parts of things.”
Indeed, Saturday was the definition of a team loss for the Dodgers (39-32), who managed just six hits, got more shaky performances from the bullpen and were booed by portions of the 51,385-person crowd as the game slipped away from them in the later innings.
Miller’s struggles became the newest concern for a pitching staff that has been lacking consistency from almost everyone else.
Entering Saturday, the hard-throwing right-hander had looked like a young star in the making, taking the mound with a 16-inning scoreless streak that he extended to 20 through the first four innings.
“I felt like I was moving really quick,” Miller said. “Felt like I was getting very efficient.”
In the top of the fifth, however, everything changed.
He issued a leadoff walk to Luis Matos, spraying the ball wide of either side of the plate.
Though Miller bounced back with a strikeout of Patrick Bailey, Matos stole second and advanced to third on a bungled pickoff attempt to shortstop Miguel Rojas, who wasn’t in position to catch the pitcher’s throw back to second base.
“I was just a little angry at myself for throwing it,” Miller said. “There was a pickoff called. Waited a few seconds to make sure everything was good. Then turned around and I was already mid-throw. I couldn’t really stop myself from throwing it.”
From there, things quickly escalated.
Brandon Crawford pulled an inside fastball to right for an RBI single.
A clearly frustrated Miller plunked Casey Schmitt in the next at-bat.
Then, in his first big mistake as a major leaguer, Miller hung a first-pitch curveball to LaMonte Wade Jr., serving up a three-run blast that went almost 400 feet.
“I think that’s probably the first time where there was a little kind of adversity in the sense of, something didn’t happen the way we’d expect it to happen,” Roberts said. “I thought he showed a little bit of frustration. But things like that are gonna happen.”
Yet, things only got worse when Miller returned to the mound in the sixth
After another leadoff walk, Miller yielded two singles to push across a run. Then, with two outs and the left-handed-heavy top of the Giants’ order due up, Roberts decided to turn to the bullpen, tasking Alex Vesia with escaping the inning.
Vesia failed in disastrous fashion, walking his first batter before giving up a grand slam to J.D. Davis.
On the season, Vesia’s ERA is now 8.00 — arguably the most unexpected disappointment in a Dodgers bullpen that has been full of them.
And as he returned to the dugout, the game all but over with the Giants leading 9-0, boos reigned down from various sections of the stands.
The jeers were well-deserved.
With their run of lackluster play now going on a month, concerns around the club are only continuing to deepen.
“It’s been hard, obviously, to build any kind of momentum,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t feel good to lose, certainly over a stretch like this. We just have to focus on playing good baseball. If we do that, it will change.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.