Kevin Millwood isn’t the least bit concerned with his lackluster record. Not when he boasts the best ERA in the American League and has his team on the verge of pulling off one of the greatest regular-season comebacks in major league history.
The right-hander will try to continue the wild card-leading Cleveland Indians’ improbable push for the AL Central title when they play the third game of a weekend series with the major league-worst Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
The Indians, 15 games behind the Central-leading White Sox on Aug. 1, have shaved that deficit to 1 1/2 games with eight to play, including a regular-season ending three-game set against Chicago at Jacobs Field next weekend.
Millwood, signed this past offseason to add a veteran presence to a blossoming young staff, has done just that. His 2.97 ERA is best in the AL, and the Indians have won each of his last three starts, though he has just one victory during that stretch.
Millwood’s 8-11 mark isn’t indicative of how well he’s pitched during the Indians’ comeback. He has allowed one earned run in each of his last three starts, and two or fewer in five consecutive outings.
On Monday, Millwood allowed four runs, but only one earned, over six solid innings as the Indians took the opener of their three-game series at Chicago 7-5.
Cleveland squandered a four-run lead Friday, but benefited from two Kansas City errors to score the go-ahead run in the ninth in a 7-6 victory. Jhonny Peralta plated the winning run with an RBI single as the Indians won for the ninth time in 10 games and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of defending World Series champion Boston in the wild-card race.
Cleveland was unable to make up more ground on Chicago, which beat Minnesota 3-1 on Friday, but Travis Hafner kept his home run streak alive. With a two-run shot in the third inning, the Indians’ star slugger has gone deep in six straight games.
Mark Teahan hit a tying homer in the eighth, his second in as many games, for the Royals, who have dropped two straight since opening their eight-game homestand with four straight wins over Detroit.