OAKLAND -- Apparently Kevin Millwood wasn't too tired, injured or obsessively worried about his contract for 2010. Turns out he really did just need a little extra time with pitching coach Mike Maddux to iron out a few of those ever-mysterious mechanical flaws in a delivery. Something about too much arch in his back throwing off his balance. Anyway, Millwood and Maddux will have plenty of time to review all of that and any other issues that might arise during Spring Training next year.
Millwood assured he will back with the Rangers in 2010 after delivering seven strong innings in a 10-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night at the Coliseum. Millwood's seven frames of work gives him 182 2/3 on the year. By passing the 180-innings mark, Millwood guaranteed his $12 million contract for 2010. "I knew what I had to get to," Millwood said. "But I wanted to get deep in the game and win the ballgame. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself." The Rangers, despite remaining 7 1/2 games behind the Angels in the American League West, did achieve one team milestone. The victory was their 82nd of the season, assuring them of only their second winning season in 10 years and first under manager Ron Washington. The other came in 2004, when they were 89-73 under Buck Showalter. "I'm not thinking about that right now," Washington said. "We've still got 13 games left. I want to win as many as we can until there are no more on the schedule and see what that is. It would be tough to be 82-80." Millwood's performance came against a team that is in last place in the AL West but began the night with a seven-game winning streak. That included three wins over the Rangers last week in Arlington. But Millwood held them to just one unearned run on three hits, a walk and two hit batters. He struck out two. Millwood was 2-5 with a 6.29 ERA in 12 starts prior to this outing. "That was the best I've seen him in a long time," Athletics manager Bob Geren said. "His velocity was up, he worked the ball well on the corners. He was tough." Millwood said it came down to being able to command his fastball. He said has been his biggest problem of late and had nothing to do with being physically tired or wounded. "Locating my fastball, that's the biggest thing," Millwood said. "When I wanted to throw it away, I threw it away, when I wanted to go in, I went in. I was able to keep the ball down. When I'm able to locate my fastball, I'm able to pitch pretty well." Millwood last pitched on Sept. 13. He spent the next nine days working with Maddux on his delivery and was pushed back in the rotation. Maddux, after studying the video, figured out that Millwood was arching his back to much. That kept Millwood's head from going directly toward home plate in his delivery. That apparently was the solution. "That helped me a lot," Millwood said. "That made it easier to get the ball where I wanted it. I got out of it a couple of times, but I was able to correct it quickly and get it right back." Two of the three hits came in the first inning, but catcher Taylor Teagarden threw out Adam Kennedy trying to steal and that helped him escape some early trouble. A hit batter, second baseman Ian Kinsler's throwing error and a sacrifice fly resulted in an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth. By that time, though, the Rangers were sitting on 6-1 lead. The Rangers scored one in the first on an RBI single by Hank Blalock and three more in the second against Oakland starter Edgar Gonzalez. Julio Borbon had a two-run single and David Murphy had an RBI double to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead. "The biggest thing was getting some runs early, finding a comfort zone and being able to build on that," Borbon said. The Rangers had 15 hits on the night, four more than they had in the three-game series against the Athletics last week. Borbon, Murphy and Blalock all had three hits. Blalock is 5-for-12 with four RBIs in the three games since he was inserted back in the lineup. "It was nice to break out," Washington said. "But we've got to keep playing and put it together again tomorrow night."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.