Kevin Millwood notches 2,000th strikeout in beating Yankees

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One could stump a lot of people with this question: who is the active leader in strikeouts among right-handed pitchers?

It will soon by Roy Halladay, who stands at 1,980, but for now, Kevin Millwood is tops. The Mariners veteran fanned six Yankees in a 6-2 win Sunday, upping his career total from 1,998 to 2,004.

Javier Vazquez ended last season as the active strikeout leader with 2,536. Since he’s now out of the league, the list is topped by two left-handers who actually didn’t pitch at all in 2011: Jamie Moyer (2,429) and Andy Pettitte (2,253). CC Sabathia (2,070) is third and rising. Millwood is fourth even though he’s finished in the top 10 of his league in strikeouts just twice: a fourth-place finish in 1999 and and a 10th-place showing in 2002.

Millwood today spoiled Pettitte’s return to Yankee Stadium with his best effort of the season. He allowed just one run and three hits to earn his first win in seven starts and lower his ERA from 5.88 to 5.09. Pettitte gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings and took the loss.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.