Tommy Milone was one of the pitchers the Oakland Athletics acquired from the Washington Nationals in exchange for 2011 All-Star Gio Gonzalez and tonight he made his A’s debut and threw an absolute gem against the Kansas City Royals. He went eight innings, giving up three hits while walking three, he did not give up a run and also did not strike out a batter. When he did get into trouble his defense came through for him and the highlight of the night was a throw from right field by Josh Reddick to nail the speedy Jason Bourgeois at third for a double play. He was on second after he had led off the game with a double, Lorenzo Cain hit a fly ball towards the right field foul line when Reddick made the catch with Bourgeois tagging, fired the baseball to third on a rope and Bourgeouis was nailed.
That wasn’t the only nice play on defense for the A’s as Kurt Suzuki who had struggled of late throwing out base runners threw out the Royals Eric Hosmer on an attempted steal of third, the just activated from the disabled list Daric Barton made a nice diving play, Milone helped himself by picking off Jeff Francoeur and Josh Donaldson made an outstanding play while playing in at third on Bourgeois.
Behind the solid defensive effort the Royals and after starting off the first three innings with doubles, the Royals offense wasn’t able to do much else except to draw three walks from Milone after the third inning.
Donaldson was also the hero for the A’s offensively as he drove in the A’s only run with a single and that came in the bottom of the second inning. The inning started with Yoenis Cespedes striking out, Seth Smith singled, Suzuki walked, Barton hit into a force with Suzuki out at second giving Donaldson his opportunity to drive in the run and that was the only blemish for Royals starter Luis Mendoza. The A’s had opportunities to expand get some more runs on the board with Donaldson facing Royals reliever Tim Collins, yet he struckout.
In the ninth inning Grant Balfour got his second save chance. Alex Gordon pinch hit and struck out, Mitch Maier also pinch hitting ended up walking, the dangerous Hosmer grounded out to first allowing Maier to get into scoring position with two outs and Billy Butler flew out to Cespedes in right center field to end the game giving Milone his first win as an A and Balfour’s second save of the season.
Yet, even with Milone’s impressive debut with the A’s, the bigger news of the day was the debut of Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish arguably one of the biggest free agent signings during the offseason. For Darvish he got his start against the Seattle Mariners and the Mariners did not waste anytime and jumped all over him. The first inning started with a walk to Chone Figgins, Dustin Ackley struck out, Ichiro singled moving Figgins up to second, Justin Smoak added another single loading the bases with one out for the Mariners.
Kyle Seager put the Mariners on the board with a two-run single and Smoak went from first to third, a wild pitch by Darvish put Seager on second, Michael Saunders walked again to load the bases and Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo added to the scoring with a shallow single scoring Smoak and the bases remained loaded, Munenori Kawasaki drew a walk scoring Seager, yet Darvish was able to strike out Brendan Ryan and induced a ground out by Figgins to keep the damage at the minimum for the Rangers.
The second inning for Darvish was also eventual even though he got Ackley to ground out to start the inning. Ichiro doubled, a ground out by Smoak moved Ichiro over to third and Seager drove him in with a double. He did manage to get to third base on a passed ball and the Mariners weren’t able to bring him home as Saunders struck out looking. Darvish nearly got himself into trouble again in the third inning by giving up a one out single to Kawasaki and then hitting Ryan with a pitch to put runners on first and second and he was able to get out of the inning without giving up a run.
He nearly had three straight back-t0-back innings before giving up a two out walk to Ackley and a single by Ichiro and Alexi Ogando then relieved Darvish and was able to strike out Smoak.
Darvish’s line for the night 5.2 innings, eight hits, five runs all earned and struck out five while walking four.
While his debut certainly wasn’t what the Rangers expected, the offensive picked up the slack for the ineffective Darvish by scoring seven runs off of Hector Noesi who was also making his debut for the Mariners. With the run support it allowed for Darvish too pick up his first Major League win and yet it still pales in comparison to the win picked up by Milone of the A’s.
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Also, check out Marian Hinton’s take on Yu Darvish’s debut