"If you talk about somebody with a purpose with each pitch, with a game plan, with the ability to execute pitches, to understand where he is in a game, the difference between going through the order the first time vs. the second time, third time, whatever, and understanding and having a feel for his stuff on that particular day, and what those hitters are trying to do, whether collectively or even more important, individually, as the game wears on, especially when you've got some veteran hitters like you do in the middle of their lineup, those four or five, you're not going to ask for a much better approach from a starting pitcher," manager Eric Wedge said.
It had been nine years since Millwood's last shutout, and nine years since he hurled a no-hitter with an overpowering fastball as his weapon of choice. You can't teach velocity, but as a wily veteran of 37, Millwood's best tool against the Rockies Friday was the pinpoint command of his fastball, coupled with the unpredictable movement of his pitches.
"I felt like my stuff was good in the first couple innings of the game," Millwood said. "My location was pretty good. I felt like if I could keep my location where it was, I felt like I had a chance to at least give us a chance."
After a 1-2-3 first frame, during which the top of the Rockies' order couldn't get the ball out of the infield, Millwood was immediately conscious that he had a no-hitter going.
"I saw it, first inning," he said. "Some guys may not pay attention, but I did. I was watching the whole game."
When Marco Scutaro finally broke through with a two-out infield single in the sixth on a hard grounder that stretched third baseman Kyle Seager's range, Millwood took it in stride.
"He gave it a good effort and that's all you can hope for," Millwood said. "It would have been great if he made the play and threw him out and we could have had fun for a little bit longer, anyway. But he made all the effort he could to make the play and it just didn't happen."
Millwood's pitching alone was enough to drop catcher John Jaso's jaw, but his diving, airborne attempt to field a bouncing bunt in the bottom of the ninth inspired teammates like Seager, who couldn't overlook the model of determination and effort from the veteran starter.
"Watching him, you can learn a great deal, but obviously his impact and presence in the clubhouse, or whoever may be around these guys, whether it be how he approaches everything, or just what he says or does is real, no doubt about it," Wedge said. "It was that way in '05 in Cleveland. I'm sure [the Rockies] saw it here last year a little bit, and it's that way with us now."