Notebook: Hard-luck Millwood continues to go about business

May 18, 2010 | Luke Jones

Kevin Millwood was lifted two innings before Nick Markakis’ RBI single gave the Orioles a 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals in 10 innings, but it was clear who the winning pitcher was in Dave Trembley’s mind.

The veteran pitcher’s first win continues to elude him, but his eight-inning performance kept the club in the game against Royals ace and 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke as the Orioles battled back to salvage a split of a two-game series. Millwood retired the first 13 batters of the game before scattering 10 hits, allowing three runs (all in the fifth inning), and striking out seven in his third eight-inning outing of the season.

“He deserved [the win], he earned it,” Trembley said. “Like I said, he didn’t get it in the book, but I think in everybody else’s eyes, he’s the reason we won the game—or one of the reasons why we won the game—because he doesn’t fold.”

His 0-4 record is indicative of the club’s anemic lineup, but the Orioles (13-27) have managed to win four of Millwood’s last five starts after losing his first four to begin the season. He’s pitched into the seventh inning or later in six of his nine starts, averaging just under seven innings per start.

For a rotation with three starters 25 or younger, Millwood has been the consummate professional, providing strong leadership despite pitching on a 13-27 club that ranks near the bottom of the American League in every major offensive category.

“It’s a win for the team and that’s all that matters,” he said about the extra-inning win and another no-decision. “As long as it’s a win for our team.”

Use the force, Luke

Luke Scott entered the eight-game homestand in the midst of one of the worst slumps of his career, hitting just .186 and looking hopelessly lost at the plate.

The left-handed slugger hit .500 (13-26) with five homers and 10 runs batted in, including two solo shots in Tuesday night’s victory. Scott also provided the most exciting moment of an otherwise miserable season last Thursday when he hit a game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning against Seattle.

“Everything’s just kind of calm and peaceful for me,” he said about his recent hot streak. “I’m just seeing the ball and putting good swings on it.”

Scott raised his average to .259 over the homestand and is now second on the team behind Ty Wigginton in home runs (9) and runs batted in (19, tied with Miguel Tejada).

Feeble at first

The struggles continue for first baseman Garrett Atkins, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Greinke. Dating back to last season in Colorado, he has now gone 44 games without a home run, a career-high.

Atkins has also gone 138 at-bats without a four-bagger, just eight shy of his career long of 146 from July 1 to Aug. 13, 2005.

Meanwhile, Norfolk’s Michael Aubrey went 2-for-4 on Tuesday night, raising his average to .276 after a rough start this season. In his last 11 games, Aubrey is hitting .441 with two homers and five RBI.

With the club needing to add a position player to the roster for its interleague matchup in Washington this weekend, Aubrey appears to be the most logical choice for a promotion, especially when considering Atkins’ attrition this season.

In addition to playing first base, Aubrey has played 12 games in the outfield this season. With Lou Montanez continuing to rot away on the bench—having not appeared in a game since May 5—an Aubrey promotion makes sense on multiple levels.

Odds & Ends

David Hernandez reported no problems with his pitching shoulder in a bullpen session and will make his next start against the Nationals on Friday. … The Orioles are now 4-1 in extra-inning games in 2010. … With Greinke’s seven strong innings, it marked the 30th time this season an opposing starter has pitched 6.0 innings or more against the Orioles. … Tuesday’s paid attendance was 9,715 after Monday’s contest drew only 9,299. … Brooks Robinson celebrated his 73rd birthday on Tuesday.

___________________________________________

BALTIMORE — Good evening from Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the Orioles (12-27) prepare to conclude a disappointing eight-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals (15-24) tonight at 7:05 p.m. It’s another dreary night at the ballpark—in more ways than just the weather—but the forecast looks to be promising for an uninterrupted night of baseball.

Kevin Millwood takes the hill in search of his first win despite a very respectable 3.69 ERA. The veteran righty will be opposed by one of the best pitchers in the American League in 2009 Cy Young Aware winner Zack Greinke, who only picked up his first win in his last start. It figures to be another challenging night at the ballpark for a lineup struggling to score runs against just about anyone.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

Kansas City
LF Scott Podsednik
C Jason Kendall
RF David DeJesus
1B Billy Butler
DH Jose Guillen
3B Alberto Callaspo
CF Mitch Maier
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
2B Chris Getz

SP Zack Greinke (1-4, 2.73 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Corey Patterson
2B Ty Wigginton
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
C Matt Wieters
DH Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Julio Lugo

SP Kevin Millwood (0-4, 3.69 ERA)

Don’t forget to join us in the Orange Crush chat tonight at 7:00 p.m., as WNST personalities will discuss tonight’s action from Camden Yards. As always, remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and quips about tonight’s game.

Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below) leading right up to first pitch at 7:05 p.m.
___________________________________________________________________

5:35 p.m. — Dave Trembley spoke to the media for nearly 30 minutes this afternoon, but nothing of real significance came from it other than an update on reliever Mike Gonzalez. The left-hander is scheduled to pitch one inning in Thursday’s extended spring training game in Sarasota and will remain there for a time before beginning a minor league rehab assignment to work his way back to Baltimore from a shoulder injury.

Pitchers may have up to 30 days for a rehab assignment before being activated from the 15-day disabled list. With Gonzalez being a short-relief arm, it’s unlikely he would need a full 30-day stint.

Of course, Gonzalez has not pitched since blowing his second save in three tries on April 9, the Orioles’ home opener.

5:30 p.m. — As I wrote in my post-game blog last night, Dave Trembley and the club have to be disappointed entering the final game of a eight-game homestand with a 3-4 record against three of the worst teams in the American League.

After a promising 3-1 start and entering the ninth inning with a 2-0 lead Saturday night, the Orioles looked like they were well on their way to the type of homestand on which they could build some momentum. Of course, Alfredo Simon entered to blow his first save opportunity of the season, and the club has lost three straight games.

As we’ve said countless times over the first six weeks of the season, the Orioles’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position continues to be the downfall of a 12-27, last-place team that continues to get solid-to-good starting pitching. Baltimore ranks 13th in the American League with a .221 team batting average with runners in scoring position.

My biggest question while perusing that statistic was how it’s possible for the Chicago White Sox (.217) to be even worse?

Comments on Facebook

Comments are closed.