At 37, Kevin Millwood was presumed to be a stopgap in the rotation. Turns out he’s a stopper.
Millwood pitched the Mariners’ first complete game of the season, a two-hit shutout in the highest-scoring park in baseball, Coors Field, and ended the Mariners’ losing streak at four with a 4-0 triumph over Colorado Friday night.
The shutout was Millwood’s first since he was with Philadelphia in 2003. He mixed a 92-mph fastball with curves and sliders among his 113 pitches that kept the Rockies’ hitters off-balance.
He walked only one and had a no-hitter through 5.2 innings. In th sixth, the Rockies’ Marco Scutaro was credited with a base hit after third baseman Kyle Seager mishandled the transfer on a ground ball. Jordan Pacheco followed with a more legitimate single, but Scutaro was thrown out at third by center fielder Michael Saunders.
“I thought about (the no-hitter) the whole game,” Millwood said. “It’s a tough thing to do. You gotta get some breaks.
“I felt terrible in the bullpen (in warm-ups). My breaking balls were terrible, I couldn’t locate the fastball. I tried to get loose, but once the adrenaline of the game kicks in, things worked out.”
It was Millwood’s 22nd complete game of his 14-year career and sixth shutout. Given the depleted state of the bullpen, the complete game couldn’t have come at a better time.
“He finished it, which was important,” said manager Eric Wedge. “We had two or three (relievers) we wanted to stay away from. I can’t say enough about how well he did.
“It was his command and the way he mixed his pitches, the way he approached certain hitters. If ever there was a guy who had a purpose behind every pitch, it’s him.”
The much-criticized offense picked up single runs in four innings and was led by Seager, batting cleanup for the first time. In the first inning, he singled home Saunders, who tripled. After Mike Carp in the second inning hit a monster home run to straightaway center, Seager in the sixth had a sacrifice fly that brought home Ichiro, who singled, stole second and went to third on a throwing error.
In the ninth, Seager tripled and came home on a sac fly from John Jaso.
Seager also made a good play in the ninth when Millwood lunged for, but failed to get, an airborne sacrifice bunt. As Millwood crashed to the ground, Seager barehanded the ball next to him and threw out the runner at first. Millwood laid there a moment, smiled and got up.
“I got a little dirty,” he said. “It was good.”