Thursday, September 30, 2010
Kevin Millwood, 2010 Topps 206 #102
So yeah, Millwood hasn't done much to help himself. But if you've been watching him all year, you know that he had a great April and August and a decent May and September, with a putrid June and July bookending a trip to the disabled list. When you take out that lost summer (9.33 ERA in nine starts), you're left with a 3.78 ERA in the remaining four months. During that stretch of the season, his W-L has been 2-11. The offense has had its struggles all year long, but it's been positively MIA when #34 takes the mound. The O's bats have produced an average of 3.55 runs when Kevin starts, and that's including runs that scored after he'd left the game. In 18 of his 31 starts, they scored three runs or less. To his credit, he never let his frustration get the best of him, choosing not to blame his unsupportive hitters for his lack of victories.
Last night, Millwood simply took matters into his own hands. He shut out the Rays, who will likely finish with the best record in the American League and were playing in front of a rare capacity home crowd, through seven innings on just two hits. He also struck out seven batters, including B.J. Upton to leave the bases loaded in his final inning. Naturally, the Birds were helpless against Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann for the first six innings, scraping out two singles and no walks. But a Nick Markakis walk and an Adam Jones single put two runners on with two out in the seventh, and Felix Pie finally picked up his pitcher with a triple to plate the only two runs of the game. Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara preserved the win by retiring five of the six Rays they faced, and Matt Wieters took care of the sixth by gunning down pinch runner Desmond Jennings in the eighth inning. Millwood insists that he wants to pitch again next year, no matter where it might be. After 2010, it's safe to say that he deserves to play with a team that can put up some crooked numbers.