Millwood seeks to help the Rangers avoid a three-game sweep and their eighth straight loss at Comerica Park when they conclude their series against the Tigers on Sunday afternoon.
Texas (3-2) looked dominant at home in a season-opening three-game sweep of Cleveland, putting 29 runs on the board in those contests. The Rangers, though, have scored only five times in two losses since arriving in Detroit. Hank Blalock homered in the second inning Saturday to give them an early lead, but they managed just one more hit after that en route to a 4-3 defeat - their seventh straight at Comerica.
The Rangers also had four walks, but went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base.
“We had opportunities all game, and we didn’t take advantage of them,” manager Ron Washington said. “Our offense hasn’t gotten anything going.”
Millwood (1-0, 1.29 ERA) has posted a losing record and an ERA above five in each of the last two years, but lost at least 15 pounds in the offseason due to cardio work and dietary changes. That regimen, emphasized by team president and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, appeared to pay dividends opening day, when Millwood threw 113 pitches over seven innings and allowed one run and five singles in seven innings of the Rangers’ 9-1 victory.
“I think it made a big difference,” Millwood said of his training program. “Even after I came out of the game, I felt like I could still go. That’s a great sign, that on April 6 I can throw 100-something pitches and still feel like I’ve got something left.”
Millwood is 4-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 11 career starts versus the Tigers (3-3). He’s 2-1 in three starts in Detroit, where he’s never yielded more than three runs.
Like Millwood, Tigers starter Edwin Jackson (0-0, 1.23) also enjoyed an impressive season debut. The right-hander, acquired from Tampa Bay during the offseason in exchange for outfielder Matt Joyce, limited Toronto to two runs - one earned - two hits and a walk in 7 1-3 innings Tuesday. He threw 60 of 89 pitches for strikes and left with a lead, but wound up without a decision in Detroit’s 5-4 defeat.
“He was everything we expected and a little bit more tonight,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Jackson.
In Saturday’s win, Detroit catcher Gerald Laird went 3-for-4 with a double, while Placido Polanco had two doubles and an RBI. Leadoff man Curtis Granderson singled to extend his season-opening hitting streak to six games.
Granderson has struggled in his career against Millwood, going 5-for-22 (.227) with eight strikeouts. Polanco, though, is 9-for-17 (.529) versus the Rangers right-hander.
Detroit has outscored Texas 65-17 during its seven-game home winning streak in the series. The Rangers have batted .198 in those contests, including .143 (5-for-35) with runners in scoring position.