CLEVELAND – Veteran Kevin Millwood hit a pitching milestone in New York – his 2,000th career strikeout – which led to a discussion Wednesday on what to do to commemorate the occasion.
“I saved the ball,” he said.
A baseball is nice, but didn’t seem enough for such a significant moment in a career. What else might Millwood do?
“Buy yourself that tractor,” reliever Shawn Kelley suggested.
“I’m going to buy a tractor,” he said.
Asked if his career had ended on 1,999 strikeouts what he might have done, Millwood didn’t hesitate.
“I’d buy the tractor,” he said. “I need one.”
The conversation then moved to Kelley, who was asked what a middle reliever my consider a milestone.
“I don’t know, 200 strikeouts? Maybe appearances,” Kelley said. “A closer has saves, but guys who pitch the sixth, seventh, eighth innings? I don’t know what you’d consider a milestone.”
Kelley saved a baseball from his first career appearance and has only one more thing in mind now.
“I want to hit a home run and save that ball,” he said.
When was the last time he had an at-bat?
“College,” he said. “I’d have to be pitching in extra innings and be going two or three innings and have my spot in the lineup come up early to get an at-bat.”
What would be the chances of him hitting one out?
“Maybe if I faced a guy throwing 95 mph and he threw me an 88 mph slider – and hung it,” Kelley said, thinking out loud. “Then I’d be swinging late on his fastball and might get that slider.”
How likely is that?
“Not very,” Kelley admitted.
SAUNDERS 6TH AT NO. 2
With Dustin Ackley now firmly lodged in the leadoff role for Seattle, the search continues for a viable No. 2 hitter in the batting order – and Wednesday the Mariners went with Michael Saunders, who became the sixth player to bat second in 39 games this season.
“He’s been getting himself in good hitting counts, good hitting positions,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We’re trying to figure out what to do with the No. 2 position, and clearly starting the lineup with three left-handed hitters is not prototypical.
“What you want there is a hitter who can work the bat, spray the ball around, is situationally sound and knows the game.”
So far in 2012, Wedge has used Dustin Ackley, John Jaso, Alex Liddi, Brendan Ryan, Casper Wells and Saunders in the second spot of his lineups.
Dustin Ackley’s first-inning single extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games. … With four games remaining on this trip, the Mariners have already played more road games (24) than any team in the majors. … Justin Smoak’s streak of 64 games in a row without an error is the longest by any active American League first baseman.
Seattle concludes this quick series with a 9:05 a.m. (PDT) game that will be televised by Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Hector Noesi (2-4, 6.32) vs. Zach McAllister (1-1, 4.15)email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue