Millwood reflects after reaching milestone 2,000th career strikeout
Kevin Millwood felt some relief along with the pride that came from notching his 2,000th career strikeout. Millwood, 38, nearly retired...
Seattle Times staff reporter
BOSTON — Kevin Millwood felt some relief along with the pride that came from notching his 2,000th career strikeout.
Millwood, 38, nearly retired from baseball last season then wasn't sure whether he would make it back to the big leagues this year. He had struck out a bunch of batters early in his career, but never really thought of himself as a milestone guy in that department, largely because he was a different pitcher in latter years.
But he reached the milestone by fanning Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees on Sunday.
"I obviously don't strike out as many guys any more," Millwood said Monday, after reflecting on his accomplishment in a seven-inning effort to beat New York. "I didn't think about it that much until the offseason when I looked and saw I was pretty close. So, after last year, when I wasn't sure whether I'd make it back, this was pretty special. I'm just glad it's over and I was able to do it."
He had nearly forgotten about it until a team trainer reminded him the other day he was only a few away. So, when he struck out Granderson, he was ready for what he had to do next.
"I'd kept reminding myself to ask to keep the ball," he said. "My oldest son had dibs on it."
That ball will now go to son, K.J. (Kevin Junior) while his youngest son, Conley, will keep Millwood's baseball cap.
Wedge wants more
production from Ichiro
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said before Monday's game he would like to see more production out of Ichiro in the No. 3 spot in the batting order. Ichiro is hitting .291 and his .333 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage represent modest increases over career low totals posted last year.
But his combined .724 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) isn't quite what teams usually expect in the No. 3 spot in the batting order. Wedge was asked in what specific areas Ichiro needs to improve.
"Driving in runs," Wedge said. "Hitting at key points in time, particularly late in a ballgame. He's the one veteran guy that we consistently have in the lineup that we need to produce for us."
Ichiro entered the night batting .222 with runners in scoring position. Though he had two singles in the game — tying Joe Medwick for 98th all-time with 2,471 hits — he also bounced into a fielder's choice with two on to end the sixth inning.
He has 13 runs batted in despite spending the entire season in the middle of the order. Justin Smoak, who was bounced from his cleanup spot and is hitting just .214, has 12 RBI.
Smoak went 2 for 4 and has gone 8 for 16 his last four games after being 2 for 20 on the team's previous homestand.