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Yankees: Strange to be facing ex-teammate Andrew Miller

Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller delivers a

Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during the ninth inning of an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Dellin Betances set up Andrew Miller’s save on Saturday, but with Miller now closing for the Indians, it wasn’t like 2015 or the beginning of this season. All Betances could do in the ninth was keep the Indians from extending their three-run lead. That kept it a save situation and enabled Miller to get his first save with the Indians since the July 31 trade with the Yankees.

Miller has been with six teams, but the Yankees were special to him. He signed a four-year, $36-million contract in 2015 and tried to include a no-trade clause. “I didn’t have enough leverage,’’ he said. “I looked at the track record of the Yankees. It’s not something they’ve done [trading free agents]. They’ve held on to free agents.

“There’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t see,’’ Miller continued. “My wife’s sitting around with wives of the Yankees night while there’s runners on base and their husbands are coming in to pitch. Fortunately, over my career bouncing around, I had to go through it quite a bit, so it wasn’t the first time. But just being so fresh, it was not the easiest experience . . . It’s tough. It’s just a huge distraction. It’s a lot easier to focus on executing pitches when there’s no relationship or anything like that. Just happy I survived and found a way.’’

It was not fun for Miller’s former teammates, either.

“Tough seeing him in another uniform,’’ said Brett Gardner, who singled off Miller in the ninth before the lefthander struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira and retired Brian McCann on a groundout to end the Yankees’ 5-2 loss. “He’s one of my all-time favorite teammates. Not just on the field, and how good of a pitcher he is, but just how good of a teammate he is. Everything about him, I just can’t say enough about what he did here.’’

Asked how it felt facing Miller, Teixeira said, “Yeah, it’s a little weird. He was in our clubhouse not long ago. We love Andrew as a teammate, as a person. I wish him nothing but the best, but if he wanted to give up four runs in the ninth, we wouldn’t have been unhappy about that.’’

Miller tried to keep his focus, but he could sense eyes staring at him at the plate and from the dugout. “I tried to keep my head down and look straight through to the catcher all the time because, you know, it’s hard enough,’’ he said. “Try to eliminate everything I can.’’

Miller will be glad to move on after Sunday’s finale at the Stadium, saying, “It’s a fun place to play. I know it’s not the same as pitching on the home side. But it’s just an awesome place to play baseball. Glad I got the job done.’’

With Erik Boland


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