Millwood, bats stymied by Twins rookie
Starter struggles into seventh; offense musters three hits
MINNEAPOLIS -- Center fielder Marlon Byrd stood beside his locker after Friday night's game against Minnesota and said simply, "It was one of those days."Only it wasn't. This Rangers team does not get shut out, especially by neophyte starters. Only it just was, despite having been the last team in the Major Leagues to avoid being blanked in 2008. And it came against a rookie, no less. Twins starter Glen Perkins looked down the barrel of baseball's best offense -- the Rangers lead the Majors with 538 runs scored and sent four regulars to the All-Star Game -- and pitched the best game of his short career. The left-hander sailed through six shutout innings, allowing only three hits in a 6-0 Twins victory. Twins relievers Craig Breslow, Jesse Crain and Boof Bonser took over and combined for three hitless innings to derail a Texas offense that hadn't been shutout since Aug. 19, 2007, a span of 135 games. That contest also took place at the Metrodome, with Johan Santana striking out 17 Rangers against Texas starter Kevin Millwood. "We got three-hit. That's uncalled for with this team," Byrd said. Millwood was also on the mound Friday, entering the game winless in nine career starts against Minnesota. He wasn't able to exorcise his demons on this occasion, surrendering five earned runs on 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings. Millwood is now 0-6 with a 6.00 ERA in 57 lifetime innings against the Twins. "Everybody has those teams they struggle against and that's one of mine," Millwood said. "There have been other games like this. There have been games where they just kicked my butt. There's not much you can do; just keep going out there and maybe one day I'll get it right." Minnesota got to Millwood initially in the fourth inning when Brian Buscher singled home Justin Morneau. The Twins doubled the lead in the sixth when Brendan Harris singled in Jason Kubel. A majority of the damage occurred in the seventh inning, however. Millwood loaded the bases before being yanked with one out for Jamey Wright. The reliever couldn't wriggle out of the jam, surrendering consecutive singles to Kubel, Delmon Young and Buscher. The Twins scored four runs in the inning, extending their lead to 6-0. "I was looking for Jamey to come in and try to get us a ground ball," manager Ron Washington said. "But it just didn't happen." Texas found out just how hard it is to retire the Twins with runners in scoring position. Minnesota was 7-for-13 in that circumstance during the contest, and is leading the league with a .311 average (261-for-840). "They get them when they count," Washington said. Perkins, who had 14 career starts coming into the game, located the ball well, moved it around in the strike zone and baffled Rangers hitters throughout the night. "He missed the barrel, and if he got the barrel it was a popup or ground ball," Byrd said. "To shut out a team like the Rangers -- they run a lot of good hitters up there -- you did something," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. How difficult is it to shut out Texas? "I think it's pretty difficult. But probably it wasn't tonight," Washington said. Still, the skipper refused to blame fatigue. Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Milton Bradley participated in the 15-inning All-Star Game on Tuesday. The quartet was a combined 2-for-14 in Friday's game. "No, there was no fatigue," Washington said. "You can't use that; that's no excuse. Those guys are professionals. We didn't put a run on the board, so that means they pitched well."
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.