In what is likely Kevin Millwood’s final start in an Orioles uniform, he turned in one of his best outings of the season, holding the Rays to two hits over seven scoreless innings in Wednesday’s 2-0 series win.
Brought to Baltimore in an offseason trade with Texas, Millwood was always professional and upbeat despite turning the worst statistical season of his career. You could tell it was important to him, manager Buck Showalter –who he has been friends with since his Rangers days — and the rest of the team to send off Millwood with a win.
“I don’t think I’ve ever pulled for anybody in my life as much as I did [Millwod] in that seventh inning with [BJ} Upton at the plate,” said pitching coach Rick Kranitz. “He really deserved that. He gave everything he had. He emptied his tank right there. He threw the ball extremely well tonight. He mixed speeds well, he was down. It was a good win for him and for the club.”
“I really feel good for Kevin. He’s had his challenges this year,” Showalter said of Millwood’s career-high and American League-leading 16 losses. “That was the right way to end it. Very quietly, this guy pitched 190-plus innings this year.”
“He’s proud from the standpoint where he doesn’t have to [have outings like Wednesday] for people to have respect for him in the game and in this clubhouse,” Showaler added. “You see the way he has handled adversity individually and from a group standpoint. That’s probably the baseball Gods shining on him at the end of the season, I think. Like I said earlier this guy threw 190 innings this year and about two weeks ago I thought he had a pretty good shot of getting his ERA under 5. He got pretty close tonight [with a 5.10].
“[He was] the same guy every day regardless of what’s happening. There’s a lot of stuff going on inside for a guy to do what he’s done through the course of his career. I hope the rest of his career treats him as well as he’s treated the game.”
Millwood has maintained that he would like to pitch again next year if someone wants him. The 35-year-old had an rocky year, but he still can get by on guts and gumption, putting together seven quality starts in his last 10 outings.
“He had us off balance,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We just had bad swings at him. I looked at the quality of the swing and the quality of the at-bat, a lot of off-speed pitches. Change-ups, sliders, back-door breaking balls. You know this guy doesn’t have the same stuff he used to have but he’s got the same mind. He knows how to pitch. And he out pitched us. He out-thought us, he out performed us tonight. He was very good.”
A free agent this offseason, Millwood would prefer to go somewhere where he has a chance to win and play in October. Whether he would accept a Minor League deal somewhere remains to be seen.