By PAUL NEWBERRY
ATLANTA – Bobby Miller took a while to get spiffed up after his big league debut.
His Los Angeles Dodgers teammates celebrated Miller’s winning performance with an impromptu beer shower that expanded to include some other clubhouse condiments.
“Ketchup, mustard, relish, beer – there was pretty nasty stuff poured on me,” Miller said, beaming at his locker after a hose-down. “I loved every second of it. It was awesome.”
Miller got started on what the Dodgers hope will be a long career in the majors by winning a duel of hard-throwing pitchers. He allowed one run over five innings as Los Angeles cruised to an 8-1 victory over Spencer Strider and the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
J.D. Martinez and Jason Heyward homered for the Dodgers, who also got three RBIs from Will Smith.
But Miller was the one getting all the attention afterward. Cheered on by more than two dozen family and friends who hastily made the trip to Atlanta after his call-up from Triple-A, he hardly looked like a guy who was doing it all for the first time.
“He was really impressive,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I thought he showed a lot of poise. He did a great job of managing his emotions and showed just just enough edginess.”
Strider fanned 11 hitters to add to his MLB-leading strikeout total – his fourth start this season with double-digit Ks and 10th of his young career.
It wasn’t enough to best the rookie in L.A. blue, especially after Strider (4-2) surrendered a second-inning homer to Heyward and the Dodgers wound up scoring two more unearned runs that inning with an assist from Matt Olson’s error.
Miller (1-0) took it from there. After a bit of a shaky start, the 24-year-old right-hander settled himself and blew away the Braves with a fastball that consistently clocked at 100 mph and an impressive slider and changeup that kept the home team off balance.
He surrendered four hits, walked one and struck out five before turning it over to the bullpen. Four relievers worked one scoreless inning apiece to stifle the Braves.
Martinez made it a rout with a three-run homer in the ninth off Michael Tonkin.
One of the Dodgers’ top prospects, Miller gave the big league rotation a much-needed boost with Dustin May and Julio Urias on the injured list and Walker Buehler expected to miss the season after Tommy John surgery.
“We’ve got some runway now,” Roberts said. “It’s exciting for this organization.”
Strider, the Braves’ mustachioed rookie sensation from 2022, came into the game leading the majors with 86 strikeouts in just 51 2/3 innings. Throwing in the upper 90s, he was hit hard in the first two frames, giving up four runs – two earned – before finding his groove.
Strider retired 13 of the last 15 hitters he faced, with only Heyward reaching base on a walk and a single. The right-hander finished his outing by striking out the side in the sixth – all swinging.
“Just a couple of pitches that I normally get away with,” Strider said, “You normally get away with a few mistakes a game. Everyone does. I didn’t tonight. You’ve got to give them credit.”
The Braves’ lone run came on Austin Riley’s two-out double in the bottom of the first, the 500th hit of his career.
The Braves gave slumping Michael Harris II a night off, hoping a brief stint on the bench will help the 2022 NL rookie of the year get back on track.
Harris is hitting just .163 with one homer and five RBIs – a far cry from his dynamic production a year ago when he batted .297 with 19 homers, 64 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 114 games after being called up from Double-A.
“He needs a mental blow right now,” manager Brian Snitker said. “A lot of times you can sit there and watch a game and hopefully, when they do that, they go, ‘Wow, it’s not as tough as I’m making it seem.'”