Results tagged ‘ Kevin Millwood ’

Is Millwood hurt?

DETROIT – When Felix Pie is activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, there’s a chance he could assume the roster spot vacated by another injured Oriole.

Monday’s starter Kevin Millwood lasted just one-inning in his worst performance of the season, allowing five earned runs to the Tigers and showcasing a dip in velocity that raises questions concerning Millwood’s health.

“There is some concern there,” said interim manager Juan Samuel in speaking of Millwood’s performance on Monday, in which the right-hander threw just four of 45 pitches with a velocity over 90 mph.

“[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] has noticed that his ball was just not coming out of his hand [with authority] and his velocity was a little bit down. And knowing Kevin he is not going to tell you what’s wrong and what’s not. He is one of those guys that’s going to take the ball anytime you give it to him.”

Samuel met with Kranitz, head athletic trainer Richard Bancells and director of baseball operations Matt Klentak for approximately twenty minutes before talking to the media. After speaking to reporters for less than five minutes, Samuel returned to the room.

When asked if the corresponding roster move for Pie could be putting a player on the DL, Samuel said it’s always a possibility.

“We are trying to still piece some things together and see what is the best decision we need to make,” he said. “And probably keep another arm.”

If Millwood is not injured, his recent struggles are alarming. Including the five earned runs he allowed to the Tigers, his first-inning ERA is 24.00 in his last nine starts, and he has allowed 25 runs in that span to balloon his season ERA to 5.77. In his last seven starts, Millwood has a 10.20 ERA, after posting a respectable 3.38 in his first five starts this season and a 4.29 mark in the six after that.

Millwood said he wasn’t sure his problems were mechanical, and acknowledged that this stretch, performance-wise, has been one of the lowest points of his 14-year career.

“I have tried a lot of different things to come out of it and change things,” Millwood said. “And just haven’t been able to do [it]“.

If Millwood is hurt and the team opts to put him on the shelf, they would only need a spot starter for July 10′s game in Texas before heading into the All-Star break. While reliever Frank Mata looked to be a sure bet to be optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk for Pie, Millwood’s outing overextended the bullpen and puts a premium on arms.

A DL move would allow the Orioles the flexibility of keeping both Mata and rookie third baseman Josh Bell, who is another candidate to be optioned for Pie.

“We have some concern that maybe [Millwood] pitched a bunch early in the season,” Samuel said. “But we’ll see. We are trying to figure out which way we are going to go with him.”
 

The Lone Star state

The Orioles are coming off a 6-2 4-4 homestand (see what I did there?) and will have a quick two-game set in Texas starting tonight with Jeremy Guthrie on the hill. He will be opposed by Rangers starter Rich Harden who is coming off a start aganst the Royals Saturday night. Harden went five innings giving up two earned runs on six hits while walking two and striking out three in the no-decision.

Tonight is the kind of game the Orioles can win if they can figure out Harden (the only regular who has faced him more than a handle of times is Miguel Tejada, who is hitting .250 in 12 career ABs).

Unfortunately, the two night games in Texas makes for tricky travel plans, and MLB opted for me to instead be ready for IL play in D.C. on Friday. But all your Orioles news will still be on Orioles.com and I’ve informed the highly-capable Todd Wills of the standards we have with here with the O’s. (Hey last-place teams, don’t deserve last place coverage- right?)

Some quick things to look for before I try to get my apartment in order: I would imagine Garrett Atkins would get the start in at least one, if not both, of these games. I grilled Trembley a bit on it yesterday and he made it clear that until there’s another feasible option, Atkins is the option. I still think Luke Scott’s hot bat sees time over there this weekend. They could also move Ty Wigginton over and put Julio Lugo at second base, which is what would have happenend when Lugo pinch-ran on Monday had the O’s tied the game.

Trembley mentioned a roster move coming for Friday’s game, which will probably spell the end for Alberto Castillo. Who comes up? A position player. Possibly Michael Aubrey, who is heating up. And he just so happens to play first base.

Finally, if you missed it, I wrote that the O’s won one for Kevin Millwood last night. He’s far too classy of a game to come out and say it, but seriously…are they ever going to get this guy a W?

  

 

  

Millwood, Scott, Patterson leftovers

In a game as multi-faceted as Tuesday’s extra-innings win, things are always bound to get lost in the shuffle. Here are some of the leftover quotes from three big players of the game: Kevin Millwood, Luke Scott and Corey Patterson.

KEVIN MILLWOOD
[on how he felt on the hill]
“[My] stuff was good, felt like I located the ball well, my four seamer was cutting a little bit, my two-seamer was sinking, when I threw my breaking pitches early, I did what I wanted to do. Stuff definitely wasn’t a problem all day.”

[on facing Greinke]
“You just want to stay in there as long as you can. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to give up any more runs [after the fifth]. And I was able to do that.

The guys were able to battle. Luke hit a couple big homers, corey hit a big home run. And we came out with a win.”

[on Luke's two homers]
“When Luke gets locked in he’s one of the best hitters in the game, it doesn’t matter who’s pitching to him, he’s going to hit the ball long and hard. And that’s kind of where he’s at right now. And it’s fun to watch a guy like that.”

[on still not getting the win]
“It’s a win for the team and that’s what matters, as long as it’s a win for our team.” 

LUKE SCOTT
[on the win]
“Total team effort is what it was. Greinke was tough, he had very good stuff today – good slider, good changeup and his fastball had a lot of life, a lot of late movement. He did a good job for his team. You got to credit Kevin Millwood for sticking in there. He had that one inning where they were able to scrape a few runs through, but he battled and kept us in the ballgame and that’s what you want out of your ace.”

[on facing Greinke]
“It’s very difficult. If I was them, I’d want to be in that situation – you think you’re sitting pretty good [with a 3-0 lead] and they were.”
 
[on being in the zone]
“Everything’s just kind of calm and peaceful for me up at the plate. There’s no traffic in my mind, there’s no confusion. There’s no stress or pressure. I’m just up there relaxing. Like I said before, I bring God into everything and I just go up there and pray and try to take him with me in all that I do. I’m enjoying my time with him.”

[on the Corey Patterson effect]
 “He’s given us a great lift. It goes to show how he’s really helped our team, but at the same time it’s another thing that shows you how much we miss Brian [Roberts] at the top of the order. Having a good leadoff man that gets on with some speed that puts some pressure on the defense and put pressure on the opposing pitcher, it’s very helpful.”

COREY PATTERSON
[On making Greinke work in 6th:] “I was able, in that at-bat, to get his pitch count up. After the at-bat, it was a little frustrating because I took some close pitches and it was 3-2 and I swung at a ball that was up and out of the zone. For a while there, I was kind of beating myself up, but I took it as a positive: I didn’t get the result I wanted, but that’s one of the best pitchers in the game. You have to foul some balls off, get the count to 3-2, work him a little bit. You know what? That was a good at-bat. I took that into my next at-bat and was able to get the homer rather than dwelling on swinging on 3-2 at a pitch that was well outside.”
 
[more on Greinke]
“There’s no doubt the game’s mental, more than anything, and you got to find a way to keep the same approach no matter who’s on the mound, whether it’s Zach Greinke, a No. 4 or 5 starter or whoever. You go in there with the attitude that’s Zach Greinke, you’re not making things any easier. You already know he’s a good pitcher, so don’t help him out. Just stay with your approach.”

[on Millwood]
 “You can’t tell with him how he’s doing, whether he’s having a good outing or a bad outing. I thought he pitched well tonight, to tell you the truth. For me looking at him, he has the same focus, his game plan. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but you know what you’re going to get every day from him. He’s going to be focused, going to give you the best he has.”

Millwood: the best winless ?

Prior to Thursday’s game manager Dave Trembley called Kevin Millwood the best winless pitcher he’s had. Unfortunately, Millwood will have to stay that way. The Orioles late-game comeback saved him from falling to 0-5, but Millwood is still searching for that elusive first ‘W’. He laughed when I told him about Trembley’s comments postgame, but the more I think about it, the more it might be true given his strong starts in previous outings.

Did he pitch well enough to win Thursday’s game? No. And Millwood will be the first to tell you that.  

“Looking back at it, I just didn’t pitch well today, that’s just the way it is,” Millwood said. “But it was a good win for the team. Those guys came through and put a big rally on the board there in the eighth. I am definitely not happy with my performance but I am happy that the team got a win, that is what it is all about.”

 “I thought Kevin after the sixth, it took something out of him, took something out of him a little bit,” manager Dave Trembley said. “He’s going to give you what he’s got all the time. And for me, he’s our best guy. He deserves [to not have suffered the loss].”

Millwood allowed all his runs via the homer and has surrendered an American League-leading 10 knocks in eight starts this year.

 “He’s a strike-thrower and he gives up home runs. Most of the time he gives them up, they’re solo,” Trembley said.  “The good ones give them up because they throw it across the plate. You just don’t want them to come with two guys on. But this was good. We came back and got him off the hook. And that’s good for [winning reliever Mark] Hendrickson. He needed to pitch well and get some time out there.”

As for his 0-4 record Millwood is too much of a professional to complain about a winless start despite a 3.69 ERA. Plus, as he pointed out to me when I relayed Trembley’s winless comment he’s been in this league a long time.

“Luckily, I’ve got a few wins before,” Millwood said.

Seriously, the guy is always in a good mood. Unbelievable. And by “a few wins” he means 155.

Great Scott!

scotty.jpg                     

In the midst of the most prolonged slump of his five-year Major League career, Luke Scott admits he has had many sleepless nights wondering what he’s doing wrong. Following a 4-for-8 series against Seattle, in which he hit a solo homer Wednesday night and a decisive grand slam Thursday afternoon, I asked Scott how he’s feeling now.

“I’ve been feeling better,” Scott said following the Orioles’ 6-5 win.  “Last night I had a nice, although it was short, I had good sleep.”

“Moments like this, it kind of makes you feel like you can breathe again.”

I asked a few of the other Orioles what it was like when Scott hit that grand slam. Starter Kevin Millwood was inside icing, but still heard the place erupt in cheers.
 
“I don’t think anyone hits happier home runs than Luke Scott,” Millwood said. “I don’t know if anyone watches him after his homers because he gets pretty excited.”

So did the rest of the O’s as Corey Patterson admitted he was on his feet watching in nervous anticipation to see if Scott’s ball would avoid left fielder Michael Saunders’ glove.

“[I] saw Saunders going back and I didn’t know because it was on the edge [of the wall] and once it went into his glove and went out, we all went crazy with high fives,” Patterson said.

“We were all excited. That was a great at-bat by him. We were all really, really happy. “

“It’s just big,” Matt Wieters said of Scott’s blast. “Especially from him, if we can get him going it would really help this team. To get a big hit and be able to come from behind and win a game is big for the confidence going forward.”

“Everyone was pumped up,” Scott said of the mood upon his return to the dugout. “It was exciting, guys were pumped up. They were cheering, a lot of energy, a lot of emotion.”

“He’s a tough guy,” manager Dave Trembley said of Scott. “He prepares himself like no other in the off-season. He loves to hit.”
 
The ball narrowly made it as a homer, with the cold, heavy air halting what would have normally been an easy outside-the-parker.
 
“To tell you the truth, I thought I had it,” Saunders said.  “Guys were telling me that when I hit the wall I kind of didn’t have an idea why I didn’t’ catch the ball. A fan with a glove hit my glove away and beat me to the baseball. I had a bead on it, but when I jumped up and hit the wall, I came down empty handed. I at least thought I would be able to touch it. I don’t think I did. I think the fan beat me to it.”

The play wasn’t reviewed, although for a second Scott wasn’t sure what happened because Ty Wigginton stopped around second base.

“Coming up on both of them I saw [Adam Jones] coming back and I had my fist up and was like ‘Yeahhhh.’ And then I was like, ‘Whoa dude, is my mind playing tricks on me or something?” Scott said when he saw the runners stop. “But nope, I just hope it’s real.”

A few mini tidbits

*Kevin Millwood’s ride-along with the Baltimore police on Wednesday afternoon will be televised on MASN’s pregame show Friday. Millwood said if he wasn’t a baseball player he wanted to be a cop, so the team arranged the ride-along.
*Orioles prospects Zach Britton and Caleb Joseph were on hand for Thursday’s game. Britton was a guest on the MASN pregame show, while Joseph joked he was Britton’s bodyguard for the night.
*Rhyne Hughes set an Orioles franchise record by hitting safely and recording an RBI in his first three Major League games. After sitting against tough left CC Sabathia, he was back in Thursday’s lineup.
*Jason Berken is third in the American League in lowest opponets’ batting average against lefties (minimum of 20 batters faced) at .091. He trails only Boston’s Daniel Bard (.080) and Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano (.087)
*Prior to Friday night’s game, Miguel Tejada will present Project Medishare with a check for $25,000 from the Orioles Charitable Foundation to assist in their Haitian earthquake relief efforts. Dr. Barth Green -who is expected to be in attendance for the ceremony– and Dr. Arthur Fournier founded Project Medishare for Haiti, Inc. in 1994.  Tejada is also going to donate money for each hit and homer he collects this season, although they haven’t determined exactly what amount that will be.

Braden, Millwood on the game

Here’s Dallas Braden talking about his performance tonight. He has pretty much
owned the O’s and improved to 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA in six starts against them.

“I always like to stress strike one. Again, I think that was
the prevalent thing for me tonight was being able to kind of force the issue
with them. I know they’ve got some guys there when you get behind or you start
to get guys on base or you get in trouble, they can do some damage with one
swing of the bat,” Braden said. “I’m sure that ball [Ty] Wigginton hit is
probably sitting on my coffee table right now in Stockton. That’s a prime
example of keeping it down and not letting them hurt you.”

Braden’s gem against the Orioles is nothing new. He’s the
ninth opposing starter in 11 games to pitch at least six innings and the sixth
starter to go at least seven. Usually starters don’t go deep into games this consistently
in April.  But for those of you have seen
the ugly offensive stats the Orioles have put up, it’s not surprising.

“It’s just frustrating,” Kevin Millwood said.
“We’re not getting blown out, we’re just not winning. It’s definitely
frustrating, but we have another game tomorrow so you can’t let it beat you
down too much.”

“The year I was in Cleveland, we had a rough start,” said
Millwood who is 0-2 despite three quality starts. “That’s just the way it is.
You have to come out of it sooner or later. Hopefully, it’s sooner.”

Millwood disapointed in debut

Lost
in the shuffle of Tuesday’s loss was the Orioles debut for Kevin Millwood.

It
wasn’t pretty, but Millwood did battle through a 100-pitch outing, yielding two
runs on nine scattered hits with five strikeouts and a walk. He tossed a solid
five innings but exited after Evan Longoria crushed a 437-foot homer to
open the sixth.

“Physically,
I felt really good, felt like I was throwing the ball where I wanted to for the
most part,” Millwood said. “Later on, I started to get the ball up a little
bit. It was decent, but to throw that many pitches and only get 15 outs, I got
to do a little better than that.”

Millwood
is a guy who prides himself on giving the bullpen a break and said he was
disappointed he couldn’t go any longer.

“Even
in that sixth inning, I made a mistake to Longoria, got that ball up, but other
than that I felt like I threw some decent pitches and they just hit them,”
Millwood said. “Sometimes you tip your hat, but hopefully next time I’ll be
able to do a little bit better.”

Stamina-wise,
Millwood said he felt the same in the sixth inning as he did in the first,
although he did admit to rushing a little bit later in the game.

Manager
Dave Trembley said Millwood battled
like he expected he would and was glad that the concerns about the veteran’s
poor Spring Training could be put to bed.

 “The guy is a
pro,” Trembley said of Millwood. “That’s what we expected that’s what we know
we were going to get more times than not from him.  And that’s why he is the No. 1 guy on this
staff. “

Lost
in the shuffle of Tuesday’s loss was the Orioles debut for Kevin Millwood.

It
wasn’t pretty, but Millwood did battle through a 100-pitch outing, yielding two
runs on nine scattered hits with five strikeouts and a walk. He tossed a solid
five innings but exited after Evan Longoria crushed a 437-foot homer to
open the sixth.

“Physically,
I felt really good, felt like I was throwing the ball where I wanted to for the
most part,” Millwood said. “Later on, I started to get the ball up a little
bit. It was decent, but to throw that many pitches and only get 15 outs, I got
to do a little better than that.”

Millwood
is a guy who prides himself on giving the bullpen a break and said he was
disappointed he couldn’t go any longer.

“Even
in that sixth inning, I made a mistake to Longoria, got that ball up, but other
than that I felt like I threw some decent pitches and they just hit them,”
Millwood said. “Sometimes you tip your hat, but hopefully next time I’ll be
able to do a little bit better.”

Stamina-wise,
Millwood said he felt the same in the sixth inning as he did in the first,
although he did admit to rushing a little bit later in the game.

Manager
Dave Trembley said Millwood battled
like he expected he would and was glad that the concerns about the veteran’s
poor Spring Training could be put to bed.

 “The guy is a
pro,” Trembley said of Millwood. “That’s what we expected that’s what we know
we were going to get more times than not from him.  And that’s why he is the No. 1 guy on this
staff.”

Gonzo faces the music

It’s always
interesting for the media to see if a new pitcher will “own up” when he blows
it. In the case of Mike Gonzalez, he
was ready and willing to face the music as soon as the reporters walked in. He
made zero excuses, didn’t use clichés and was noticeably upset about his
performance, which includes a loss and a blown save in the Orioles 4-3 loss to
the Rays.

Most of my game story
on Orioles.com centers on Gonzo, but here’s the rundown of what he said.

“Seriously, I’m disgusted by the whole thing,” Gonzalez
said when asked if Tuesday’s loss was tough to swallow given the performance of
the other arms.

 

“You see [Kevin]
Millwood
go out there and pitch a gem. The bullpen did awesome, they did
great, they did what they had to do, they grinded. Our offense did what they
were doing all last year. They’re going to get their runs, and I’ve got to come
in and shut the door.”

 

“I’ve got no excuses about that. I didn’t get it done
and it’s one of those things where, as soon as I leave this locker room, I’m
forgetting about it. Tomorrow’s another day and I’ve got to come in and get it
done then.”

 

Gonzalez’s radar readings were the best they’ve been this
spring, with a fastball that topped out at 93 mph. Unfortunately, his location
left much to be desired as the Rays jumped on the lefty for a one-out single
and a pair of doubles, sandwiched in between an intentional walk to Jason
Bartlett.  Carl Crawford had the winning
hit.

 

 “I felt surprisingly really good,” said Gonzalez who admitted
he was amped when he took the hill for the first time in an Orioles uniform.  

 

“I’ve just got to tone it down a little bit. That means
getting the ball down a little more. Those pitches up, they took advantage of
them. They executed the pitches and that’s how it went.”

 

And because I know
this one outing will spark questions about whether Gonzalez should be the
Orioles closer, here’s what manager Dave Trembley had to say:

 “We
got ourselves to the ninth inning and Gonzalez is our guy and we just didn’t
get the three outs.”

 Wasn’t this game
scripted exactly the way Trembley wanted?

“That’s the way it
is, that’s how it will be,” he said. “There is no one else that’s going to
close it. That’s Gonzalez. [Will] Ohman is going to come in and matchup left
against left. He did a tremendous job. Johnson is your eighth inning guy. More
times than not, it’s going to work in your favor. It didn’t tonight.”

The bottom line is
the Orioles are paying Gonzalez $12 million over the next two seasons. So he will
get every opportunity to prove he can hold down the ninth.

A totally unrelated fact: Rays pitcher Rafael
Soriano, the other half of the Braves closing team last season, got the win in
Tuesday’s game. Gonzalez obviously got the loss, but the two are closer than
just formerly sharing a clubhouse. Gonzalez said he’s a godfather to one of
Soriano’s kids.

Millwood passes primer

milly.jpg

With all the excitement of
the Julio Lugo trade
this morning, I didn’t get to watch Kevin Millwood throw in
his final spring training tune-up, like I had originally planned.

Millwood tossed a short, four-inning outing in the Orioles Triple-A game on the back fields of Ed Smith Stadium in
what was his final stint before Tuesday’s Opening Day contest against the
Tampa Bay Rays. At this stage of the game, it’s only important that Millwood
felt OK and walked off the mound healthy. Which he did.

 “It’s
just a final tuneup to try and mix in all of your pitches, and to see if there
is anything you need to work on between now and the first game,” Millwood said.
“I was fine with it. It’s hard to get any excitement or any adrenaline going
this time of spring. Everybody is ready to get out of here, but all in all, I’m
pretty happy with it.”

 “I
don’t think there will be a pitch count [for Tuesday's game]. I’ll be ready to
go as long as they want me to go.”

Millwood is a career 2-2 with a 6.16 ERA in five games
against the Rays; a number that goes up to 6.63 in the three starts Millwood
has started inside Tropicana Field. 

Historically the season’s initial months have been kind to
the veteran right-hander.  Millwood has a career 3.94 ERA in 64 games in
March and April, and last year he went at least seven innings in all five of
his April starts and in his first two starts in May.

Millwood will be opposed by Rays’ right-hander James Shields,
who will be making his team record third-consecutive Opening Day start. The
28-year-old Shields is the elder statesmen of a young and talented Rays staff
and, like Millwood, Shields has build a reputation as pitcher who consistently
works deep into games.

Shields has posted three consecutive seasons with 215 total
innings pitched, and excels inside the Rays home dome. He owns a 25-14 mark
with a 3.40 ERA at Tropicana Field, and is 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 15 career
starts against the Orioles.

*Chris Tillman tossed six innings in the Double-A game and got up to 101
pitches (with close friend Brian Matusz looking on.) It was his first outing in a week. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz
told me yesterday that one of the goals for Tillman at Triple-A will be
to pitch more. So look for him to get stretched out pretty good in Norfolk.

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