SEATTLE – One thing Kevin Millwood will miss if he’s traded by the Mariners is having one of the best shortstops he’s ever seen playing behind him.
Millwood emerged with a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals in his final outing Saturday before a July 31 trade deadline in which his name could be featured.
At age 37, there likely isn’t much of a future in baseball for Millwood beyond this season and the Mariners would like to give him a final shot with a contender if the right offer comes along.
And if he does go out, it will be with a rare victory, thanks in no small part to a couple of plays by shortstop Brendan Ryan.
On a day when the defense didn’t always distinguish itself on either side, Ryan hauled in a tough pop-up in shallow left and later made a strong throw on a grounder from 10 feet deep in the outfield grass to nab a runner at first base.
“Defensively, I’m not sure you can get any better,” said Millwood, who broke into the majors back in 1998. “I’m sure people don’t look at him too much because he’s not having a great offensive year. But with the ground that he covers and the way he makes plays, I don’t know that there’s a better one out there.”
Seattle won a third in a row over the Royals - and for the sixth time versus Kansas City in just less than two weeks – in a game the Mariners probably should have wrapped up far easier than they did.
Seattle overcame a 1-0 deficit in the third inning on a two-run homer by Jesus Montero off Royals left-hander Bruce Chen. Royals left fielder Alex Gordon then lost a ball in the sun – a theme that would recur throughout the day – and let it fall in for a Kyle Seager double with two out.
Miguel Olivo cashed him in with a single to make it 3-1.
The Royals came back when Gordon hit a one-out double in the seventh and Alcides Escobar tripled to cut the lead to 3-2. But with the tying run on third, Chris Getz hit a ball right at a drawn-in Dustin Ackley, who held the runner and threw to first for the out.
Brandon League then escaped the jam on a Yuniesky Betancourt ground out. The Mariners added a huge insurance run on a Mike Carp sacrifice fly in the bottom of inning after loading the bases on two walks and a double-clutched throw to third by pitcher Jose Mijares on a bunt that left everybody safe.
Tom Wilhelmsen was cruising in the ninth until a two-out single and then a Lorenzo Cain triple to right lost in the sun by Casper Wells made it a one-run game again. But Wilhelmsen got Gordon to ground out, securing the first victory for Millwood since way back on May 23.