Millar has no concerns about offence

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Millar played six seasons against the Blue Jays.

"I always wondered why they weren't more dominating," Millar said yesterday in the visiting clubhouse.

"Mind you, 10 games over .500 last year in a tough decision isn't bad."

Now, after three seasons with the Boston Red Sox and three more with the Baltimore Orioles, Millar has been with the Jays for 11 games.

"I see a healthy Vernon Wells, a healthy Aaron Hill," Millar said. Neither player was healthy in 2008.

"We have to get guys to believe that they can compete. I see a deep unit that can go with matchups. I don't see a weakness offensively."

Last night, Millar was part of Cito Gaston's matchup, along with Jose Bautista, shunting left-handed hitters Lyle Overbay and Travis Snider to the bench.

It paid dividends as in the Jays' seven-run seventh, Millar hit a grand slam.

Unlike previous years, Millar is part of a Jays team which came close to holding its own against the New York Yankees and Red Sox -- 55-54 combined against the AL East powers over the past five seasons. The problem was they would slip on banana peels like the Cleveland Indians (9-23) and the Detroit Tigers (16-18) over the same time frame.

This season, the Jays took three of four from the Tigers, two of three from the Indians and looked for their third win in the four-game series against the Minnesota Twins last night.

"We need consistent pitching, like Tampa Bay had last year from start to finish," Millar said. "What do we have -- 21/2 experienced starters? Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch have pitched a full season and David Purcey has half a season. Scott Richmond and Ricky Romero are rookies.

"How many games is Romero is going to win? It could be eight. It could be 20."

And now Litsch is sidelined due to a right forearm strain.

The Jays rotation consists of Purcey, who starts tonight at the Rogers Centre against the Oakland A's, Brian Tallet, who makes his seventh career start tomorrow, Romero, Scott Richmond and Roy Halladay, last night's starter.

Millar is familiar with playing behind ace pitchers such as Ryan Dempster and A.J. Burnett with the Florida Marlins, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling with the Sox and Erik Bedard with Baltimore.

"Schilling was the best big-game pitcher I ever played with," Millar said. "What he did in 1993 against these guys when he was with Philadelphia (pitching a complete-game, five-hit shutout to force Game 6 at the SkyDome) and what he did for us in 2004.

"To face Roy (Halladay) and then play behind him, he's at the top when it comes to dominating along with Pedro and Curt."

Millar is loud and playful.

We remember him in the 2004 post-season with Boston when he noticed badge numbers on the Baseball Writers of America passes. Millar liked the numbering system so much he would only take questions from reporters with the lower numbers.

Then, he asked to meet Dave Anderson, of the New York Times, who was No. 1.

"On game days Pedro was probably the easiest to talk to," Millar said. "All three (Halladay and Schilling the others) are students of the game, they have a purpose for every pitch. It's no fluke the success that they've had."

Millar's slam came on a knuckleball from R.A. Dickey.

"The best pitch to hit (from a knuckleballer) is usually the first," Millar said.

The rally allowed the Jays to coast home as Halladay put in another strong seven innings.

Last night began a four-game stretch where the Jays would face three left-handers. That's three starts for Millar.

"He hit 20 homers last year," Gaston said. "He goes up there with a plan, he'll sit on a pitch."

And against left-handers Millar has not been sitting.


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