Now the Philadelphia Phillies’ ace, Millwood is preparing to face his former team for the first time when the National League East rivals meet in the middle game of their series at Veterans Stadium.
Millwood, who went 75-46 for the Braves from 1997-2002, was traded to Philadelphia in December in exchange for minor league catcher Johnny Estrada in a cost-cutting move. Although the Phillies played two series against the Braves in April, Millwood’s turn in the rotation did not come up.
He admits it will be strange for him when he first steps on the mound against his former teammates.
“I’ll try my best to approach it just like any other ballgame,” Millwood said. “You always want to face the best and right now these guys are the best. If nothing else, we can put a question in their mind on how good they are.”
For most of the Braves, their primary concern will simply be trying to get a hit off the dominant right-hander.
“When I go up there, I’ll tip my cap to him, then after that it will be all business,” Atlanta left fielder Chipper Jones said. “It’s going to be different, but we’ll have fun with it. We’ll just try to eke out enough runs to win.”
Bell, who had been in a 5-for-51 slump, said he hopes his big hit can propel the Phillies to a winning streak. Philadelphia has won two straight after losing three in a row.
“I was just looking for a strike to hit and concentrating on hitting the ball to the outfield,” said Bell, who went 1-for-4 to lift his batting average to .207. “Hopefully, this will be the start of a run for us.”
Atlanta has lost three of its last four.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Phillies - 3rd place, 9 GB, NL East.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Russ Ortiz (7-4, 3.79 ERA). Ortiz pitched well in his last start, but not well enough to pick up a victory. He worked 7 2-3 innings on Friday, giving up two runs and seven hits, but Atlanta fell to the Seattle Mariners 2-1. The 29-year-old right-hander is 2-3 with a 4.02 ERA in nine career games against Philadelphia.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Millwood (8-4, 3.72 ERA). Millwood had his worst outing of the season on Friday. Lasting just three innings in a 15-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, he gave up eight runs and 11 hits.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .343 avg. and 57 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 19 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 61 runs and 11 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .328 avg.; Jim Thome, 15 HRs and 49 RBIs; Jimmy Rollins, 44 runs and 8 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 4-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - RF Sheffield is batting .143 (2-for-14) with four strikeouts in his career against RHP Millwood. … LF Chipper Jones homered on Tuesday, breaking a three-game homerless streak for the Braves. Atlanta has not gone homerless in any four-game stretch this season. … SS Furcal hasn’t grounded into a double play in 283 at-bats—the best mark in the majors. Phillies - RF Bobby Abreu is batting .455 (10-for-22) with two homers in his career against RHP Ortiz. … Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas will work Wednesday’s game on ESPN as part of the network’s Living Legends series. … The Phillies announced a $95 million naming-rights deal with Citizens Bank on Tuesday. Citizens Bank Park, the team’s new ballpark, is scheduled to open at the start of next season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 21-14 on the road; Phillies - 20-15 at home.