Did the clock strike midnight on Tommy Milone’s Cinderella story, or did he just have a bad night on the mound on Wednesday night’s loss to the Atlanta Braves?
After giving up eight hits and three runs in five innings on the mound against Miami in his first start back with the Washington Nationals, Tommy Milone held the New York Mets to a run on three hits in seven innings in his second outing, striking out nine of 24 batters he faced in a 5-3 win last week.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after the game with the Mets that he’d seen Milone pitch on multiple occasions over the years, liked what he saw from the southpaw this past Spring, and was impressed with what he had done in two starts in the majors this season.
“We saw him when he was with Oakland a while back, and he was good,” Martinez said, “... and then didn’t see him for a while, and I saw him in Spring Training and I thought, ‘You know, this guy, he’s a veteran guy, if he can throw strikes he’ll be pretty good,’ and here he is doing what he does best and that’s pounding the strike zone.”
“The style of pitching that I have I need to command the fastball first and foremost,” Milone said when he spoke to reporters after facing New York, “and I was able to do that early on in the game and kind of mix the offspeed pitches off of that a little bit later too.”
Martinez said Milone’s strength was, “his ability to pound the strike zone, both with fastballs, changeups, and curveballs. He’s always in the strike zone, which is nice to see, you know.”
“In his last outing he was really, really good, so we’re hoping that he continues to do that and keeps us in the ballgame.”
Going up against the Braves, Milone came out strong, retiring the first five batters he faced, but the next three all connected for hits, with Johan Camargo and Tyler Flowers hitting back-to-back singles in front of Charlie Culberson, who hit an 0-2 fastball out to left for a three-run blast that made it 3-1 in the visiting team’s favor after the Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
Tyler Flowers hit the second home run of the game off Milone on a 1-0 fastball in the top of the fourth, one out after Adam Duvall singled to start the frame, 5-1 game, and another two-run blast Ronald Acuna, Jr., who hit it out to straight center, made it 7-1 after three in D.C.
Milone held it there, and even hit for himself with a runner on in the fifth, bunting catcher Matt Wieters over before he scored, but the Nats never recovered from the early deficit in what ended up an 8-3 loss.
Tommy Milone’s Line: 6.0 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 3 HRs, 85 P, 62 S, 4/5 GO/FO.
“I think he left a couple balls out over the plate,” Martinez said after the game, when asked what went wrong for Milone. “Didn’t get the balls in. They hit a couple homers off him. We left — on the other side — we left 10 guys on base, we got some hits, we got 10 hits, but we couldn’t get that big hit. It was just a rough day.”
“I threw a lot of strikes, so I think they were geared up to swing,” Milone told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Those balls up, whether they were geared for it or not, they hit them. It’s frustrating.”
Martinez was asked why he stuck with Milone after he was hit hard in the first few innings?
“Once they scored the runs like that, to pinch hit for him, we needed length,” he explained.
“Right now our bullpen has been a little beat up,” Martinez continued, “and I thought about tomorrow and covering tomorrow too, so he got up there, he had a chance to bunt, and get Wieters over, we get something going, a guy gets a base hit, if we could get another inning or two, which he settled down and gave us that, so it was — for me he did a good job.”