All things considering, the fact that Tommy Milone nearly finished seven full innings of work against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday through 96 pitches could be considered an accomplishment in itself.
The 26-year old hurler had dug himself into an early hole in the afternoon, giving up a pair of hits and a walk in the first inning and putting the Oakland Athletics behind by a 3-0 score that included a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded.
No, the defense didn’t help him out then, but after serving up a second-inning homer to a struggling Yunel Escobar (who actually notched two hits off him) of all batters, it looked like an early day was in the works for Milone.
Instead, the A’s No. 3 pitcher recovered, and kept his team in the game as best as he could. Nah, it wasn’t always clean, but the lefty did retire nine straight batters at one point, only running out of gas after finally getting the better of his one-day nemesis Escobar in the third showdown of the afternoon.
The 6.2 innings, four earned runs (six total) on eight hits doesn’t exactly look pretty on Milone’s line, but he pitched better on this afternoon in the 8-1 A’s loss than the numbers would indicate.
Despite getting knocked around early on, he only walked one batter and struck out six, maintaining a crisp 7.46 K/9 to 1.78 BB/9 on the season. Simply put, Milone didn’t crack on the mound where there were plenty of good reasons to, and didn’t give in despite not getting a whole lot of help from the A’s AL-best offense.
Unfortunately, effort isn’t a counting number; and by finding himself on the losing end of a rather one-sided beating, Milone’s quest to stretch his personal win streak to six (going back to last September) came to an end on Sunday.
Then again, considering that he’d received a whopping 28 runs of support in his three 2013 starts headed into this afternoon, perhaps you could say this was just a little bit of lineup-dependent correction was always waiting to happen. On a different day, we’d be talking about how Milone kept his team in the game just long enough to earn the victory.
As long as he can maintain composure as he did, it won’t be long before that day comes for him to start a new streak.