Millwood Had Success in Lone Season with Tribe
By Christian Petrila
What do you get when you take a pitcher and move him to the American League after eight seasons in the National League?
Answer: The league leader in ERA and this week’s Flash in a Pan.
Kevin Millwood announced his retirement on Sunday, so what better way to honor his career than make him this week’s Flash? (On second thought, don’t answer that.)
Millwood’s lone season with the Indians was an extremely memorable one. After spending eight seasons in the National League with Atlanta and Philadelphia, Millwood signed a one-year deal prior to the 2005 season. While his record was only 9-11 that season, he led the American League with a 2.86 ERA, which was good enough for a sixth-place finish in Cy Young voting. A big factor in his low ERA was that in his wins, his ERA was a meager 1.66. 1.66. Even in Justin Verlander’s incredible 2011 season, his ERA wasn’t that low in winning appearances.
Kevin Millwood was drafted by the Braves in the 11th round of the 1993 amateur draft. After spending five seasons in the minors (with rather underwhelming numbers), Millwood made his debut on July 14, 1997 against the Phillies. He got the win after pitching two innings of scoreless relief inAtlanta’s 10-9 victory. The rest of that season, he bounced around being a starter and a reliever. He must not have appreciated being left offAtlanta’s playoff roster, because he was back with a vengeance the next season.
In 1998, Millwood’s career shot out of a cannon as he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA. However, still having the services of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, the Braves left him off the playoff roster once again in favor of 20-game winner Denny Neagle.
Fed up with being left off the playoff roster, Millwood left little doubt he was deserving of a playoff appearance in 1999. He went 18-7 with a career-low 2.68 ERA en route to a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young voting, his first All-Star Game and his first playoff appearance.
In the playoffs, Millwood was solid until his team ran into the buzz saw that was the New York Yankees. He had only given up six earned runs in 22.2 innings through the NLCS, but was shelled for five runs (four earned) in just two innings against the Yankees in Game 2. The Yankees would go on to sweep the series to clinch their second consecutive championship.
The next two seasons, Millwood had trouble replicating the success he saw in 1999, and his team was unable to get back to the World Series. Millwood did recapture some magic in 2002 as he went 18-8 with a 3.24 ERA, but once again, Atlanta fell short of the promise land and Millwood signed with the Phillies after the season.
Millwood’s 2003 season was nothing to write home about, but he did provide Phillie fans with a memorable moment. On the afternoon of Apr. 27, Millwood tossed a no-hitter against the Giants in a 1-0 win. He struck out 10 Giants and walked three in the gem. In 2004, Millwood was benched for a month with an injury that all but ended his career in Philadelphia. After that season, he signed with the Indians.
After leaving Cleveland, Millwood played four seasons in Texas. His first season was solid, going 16-12 with a 4.52 ERA. Pretty similar to Paul Byrd’s numbers with the Tribe in 2007. However, the next two seasons would be a struggle for Millwood, as he went a combined 19-24 with an ERA over five. He would bounce back in 2009 as he went 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA. After the season, he was shipped toBaltimorefor Chris Ray and Ben Snyder.
Millwood’s lone season in Baltimore was, with lack of a better word, ugly. He went a dismal 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts. Needless to say, it was easy for the Orioles to grant him free agency after the season.
In 2011, Millwood was picked up by the Yankees and Red Sox before finally making it back to the MLB with the Rockies. Finally, in his swan song 2012 season withSeattle, Millwood went 6-12 with a 4.25 ERA. He was also the starting pitcher when the Mariners combined for a six-pitcher no-hitter against the Dodgers on June 8.
So as Kevin Millwood rides into the sunset, he is remembered in Cleveland for his lone go-around as the league leader in ERA. Now, the only numbers that he should worry about are the ones under par.
Photo: Associated Press