10/06/2002 7:59 pm ET
Not just another manic Monday
Millwood relaxes in advance of Game 5 start
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Kevin Millwood got his chance to relax from the drama of playoff baseball.
While the rest of his Braves were straining -- unsuccessfully, it turned out -- in an attempt to close out the Giants on Sunday, Millwood was already home in Atlanta. While his teammates were preparing for the red-eye flight, Millwood was ready for his own bed. He'd be as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as a guy with a 17-month-old and another child on the way can possibly be.
Sunday was Millwood's fun day, his "I don't have to run" day.
But now he faces a manic Monday. Millwood will start Monday's deciding game of the best-of-5 National League Division Series at Turner Field. The winner will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series starting Wednesday.
If it's the Braves, it'll be their 11th LCS appearance in the last 12 that have been played. That series with the Cardinals would start at Turner Field. So whether the Braves stay home or go home will depend on Millwood, who won Game 2 for Atlanta.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, who gave Millwood the extra rest by allowing him to fly out of San Francisco early Sunday morning, said the 27-year-old Millwood is naturally cool enough to withstand the heat of an elimination game.
"He's always had good mound presence, and I think that's important," Cox said. "I think a lot of that has rubbed off from Tommy Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux through the years.
"They don't get excited, try to keep the damage control button on. If you do get a run or two, you keep the damage control going. It's just better to do it that way."
The best way, however, is the one Millwood executed in Game 2 -- by not allowing the Giants much at all. He held San Francisco to two runs on three hits in six smooth innings of a 7-3 Braves victory that tied the series.
Millwood, 3-2 in eight postseason appearances, has won 17 of his last 20 decisions this season.
"I see why they said he's been throwing as good as anybody in the league," said Giants manager Dusty Baker, whose team did manage solo shots from J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia against Millwood but little else because the pitcher struck out seven and issued no walks. "The last six weeks or so, he's the best pitcher on the staff."
Millwood enters as fresh as possible on three days' rest. He threw just 72 pitches, 54 of which were strikes.
"There was some thought to that," Cox said of the decision to remove Millwood when he was pitching so well. "We had a decent lead and our bullpen was going good and, if needed, he could pitch on three days' rest.
"This ended up absolutely perfect."
Now it's up to Millwood, who spent his Sunday relaxing, to make sure the series ends perfectly for the Braves.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.