Rangers 8, Mariners 1
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Kevin Millwood wasn’t like so many other pitchers the Rangers have tried to persuade to come to Texas. Their hitter-friendly ballpark didn’t bother him.
Not even after he lost his first two starts there.
“I stuck to my guns. The field doesn’t bother me, and it still doesn’t,” Millwood said. “I just finally got to where I was pitching a little better and getting a few wins here.”
Millwood allowed one run over seven innings for his 16th victory—his fourth straight at home—in the Rangers’ 8-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
After leading the AL in ERA last season, the free agent signed a $60 million, five-year contract. He lost to Boston in the season opener and was 1-3 in his first five home starts. Only now does he have a winning record (7-6) there.
“He didn’t look around and say, `Oh my goodness, it’s this, it’s this,”’ manager Buck Showalter said. “He said, `I’m not real sure, but I’m going to go out there every fifth day and if I’m good enough, it’ll work out over the long haul.”’
It has for Millwood (16-10), who surpassed the 200-inning mark for the first time since 2003. The right-hander has won 16 games for the fourth time, the most since he was 18-8 for Atlanta in 2002.
“I just wanted to pitch well,” said Millwood, whose last two scheduled starts include the home finale Sunday. “So far, it’s turned out to be an OK season.”
Young went 2-for-4 with his 49th double to increase his major league-leading total to 205 hits. That’s two more than Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki, who went 0-for-4. Matthews was 3-for-5.
Carlos Lee put the Rangers up with a two-run double in the third after Matthews singled and Young hit a double to right. Hank Blalock followed with another double to make it 3-0. Matthews had a leadoff single in the fifth and scored on an error.
With 11 games left, the Rangers extended their team record for doubles to 340—33 shy of the major league record shared by the St. Louis Cardinals (1930) and Boston Red Sox (1997 and 2004). Young matched Rafael Palmeiro (1991) for second on Texas’ season list, one shy of Juan Gonzalez’s 50 in 1998.
Felix Hernandez (11-14), Seattle’s 20-year-old right-hander in his second season, matched his season high with nine strikeouts in five innings, but he gave up four runs and five hits.
“I don’t really care about striking people out,” Hernandez said. “Most of the time when I do that, my pitch count is pretty high and I don’t get past five or six innings.”
After No. 2 hitter Adrian Beltre had a single in the first, Millwood didn’t allow another hit until Raul Ibanez led off the seventh with a double—a liner that bounced off the extended glove of Matthews, the All-Star center fielder.
“I didn’t see him pitch with the Indians or here with such consistent velocity as he did tonight. He was between 92 and 96 mph,” manager Mike Hargrove said. “He had good stuff.”
Millwood allowed four hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He has a 2.40 ERA his last four home appearances.
Hernandez is 1-5 with an 8.63 ERA his last eight starts. He allowed one run in two of his no-decisions and the only win in that span was a five-hit shutout against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 18.
Young is hitting .403 (29-of-72) with 10 multihit games in September, raising his average from .296 to .317. The All-Star SS was the AL batting champion last season at .331. … Seattle’s Kenji Johjima and Jose Lopez both had 10-game hitting streaks snapped. … Beltre has an eight-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .406 (13-for-32) after an 0-for-22 skid. … Matthews has scored 97 runs. The only Rangers leadoff hitter to score 100 was Oddibe McDowell with 101 in 1986.