I’ve been resisting writing this, but here goes:
Kevin Millwood is Back.
Kevin went seven innings today (105 pitches), struck out eleven, allowed one walk, two hits, and no runs. The bullpen dynamic duo of Remlinger and Smoltz were perfect, striking out five between them (the only Cub to get a bat on the ball was Angel Echevarria, who popped up off Remlinger), and the Braves salvaged a split, 2-0. The Cubs aren’t a good offensive team, but 16 strikeouts and three baserunners allowed is impressive against anyone.
Millwood is now 8-5 with a 3.68 ERA. Those are good but not great numbers, but after giving up seven runs in a loss at Colorado May 18th, he was 2-5 with a 4.92 ERA. The Braves’ big run to take control of the division pretty much started the next day, and Kevin’s been a big part of that. Today’s strikeouts are a terrific sign; at times this year he’s struggled to find those, even if he’s basically pitching well. He’s had a strikeout an inning or better in his last four starts, and that more than anything convinces me he’s got his mojo back. Now if he can only stay healthy…
Gary Sheffield had three hits, two of them doubles, to continue his streak. He’s now hitting .284, second on the team (at least among players with more or less regular duty) and has the best OPS on the team. With the Joneses struggling (they each had hits today; they aren’t doing great but at least they aren’t killing the team anymore) he’s been the best player on the team the last month, with the possible exception of Matt Franco, or maybe Remlinger.