The Texas Rangers’ poor homestand may have ended their chance at returning to the playoffs, but it seems to have helped hastened Kevin Millwood’s(notes) return to the mound as he tries to reach an important personal incentive.
The Rangers look to bounce back after a tough stretch at home as they visit the streaking Oakland Athletics on Monday in the opener of a four-game series.
Texas (81-67) closed its homestand 2-7, losing 10-5 to the AL West-leading Angels on Sunday to fall 7 1/2 games back in the division. The Rangers were shut out four times and scored a total of 19 runs while hitting .204 over the nine games.
The lack of hope for a postseason berth may have led the Rangers to start Millwood (10-10, 3.94 ERA) on Monday. The right-hander takes the mound needing to pitch 4 1-3 innings to reach 180 and guarantee a $12 million salary for 2010 — the final year of his five-year contract.
Millwood is making his first start since Sept. 12, when he gave up five runs in 3 2-3 innings against Seattle to fall to 2-5 with a 6.29 ERA in 12 starts since July. The Rangers pushed his next start back as he worked on a mechanical issue, and there was a question of whether he would pitch again after being skipped in this weekend’s crucial series.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan denied that Millwood not pitching had anything to do with his contract clause and a possible sale of the team. Millwood is looking forward to his next start.
“I definitively had some time to work on some things,” he said. “It’s definitely been tough to sit back and watch here lately. I just want to get back out and pitch.”
Millwood is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts against Oakland this season. He’s lost his last three starts at the Coliseum, however, giving up 15 runs in 16 2-3 innings.
Oakland (71-78) won its seventh straight Sunday, completing a four-game sweep of Cleveland with an 11-4 win. The A’s, who have won 12 of 14, have scored 45 runs and hit .310 over the winning streak. Adam Kennedy(notes) homered and finished with three RBIs on Sunday while Ryan Sweeney(notes) drove in two runs.
“The offense has kind of an identity right now and we are having fun playing.” Kennedy said.
Kennedy is hitting .400 with 10 RBIs this month. He’s 12 for 37 with three homers in 10 games against Texas this year.
Edgar Gonzalez (0-2, 4.74) will take the mound for the Athletics on Monday. Gonzalez has made 24 appearances this year - four as a starter, including two against Texas. He gave up one run in four innings of a 6-1 win over the Rangers last Tuesday, but did not factor in the decision.