It’s amazing what success a pitcher can have when he simply pounds the strike zone, and that is exactly what the new king of the O.co Coliseum Tommy Milone did tonight. He held the Los Angeles Dodgers to just 3 hits and 1 ER in his first complete game in the big leagues. After falling behind 1-0 when Josh Reddick slid and caught Juan Uribe‘s soft liner only to have the ball fly out when he tumbled after the slide. The “double” drove in the Dodgers lone run, but the A’s and Tommy Milone would have Reddick’s back when it was needed.
TURNING POINT: A Seth Smith double drove in the tying run after Yoenis Cespedes drove a ball to the wall in left for a leadoff double. It was the only run they could muster that inning, and it was up to Tommy Milone to keep the Dodgers from regaining the lead. He did so in quick fashion, retiring the side 1-2-3 in just 10 pitches. An Eric Sogard single, a Coco Crisp walk, and a Jemile Weeks bunt single loaded the bases for the slumping Josh Reddick. He didn’t exactly come through in the clutch, but he did manage to make enough contact to drive in the run from 3rd, which was ultimately the winning run. Cespedes followed with an RBI single to give the A’s a cushion, and from then on it was cruise control for Tommy Milone.
ON THE HILL: For the first time this season, this section of the recap will only discuss a single pitcher. Tonight’s game was all about Tommy Milone. If that ball hadn’t squirted out of Josh Reddick’s glove, we’d be talking about a complete game shutout for Milone, but he had to settle for allowing the 1 run. He threw 112 pitches tonight, 73 for strikes, and pitched to contact with only 2 strikeouts. He was only responsible for 4 base runners, 3 on hits and 1 walk, and another reached on an error by Jemile Weeks. The massive difference between Milone on the road and at home remains the same, his ERA skyrocketed to 1.01 this year at the Coliseum where he is 5-1 this year.
AT THE PLATE: This lineup has a completely different feel when Cespedes is there, plain and simple. He is the most legitimate power threat the A’s have, and his presence resonates 1 through 9. In his return he went 2-4 with a run and an RBI and just missed a home run in the 8th. Seth Smith continued his great month of June with a 1-3 night and an RBI. Brandon Moss meanwhile continued his torrid 2 weeks in Oakland with his 7th home run in 13 games. On the down side Josh Reddick’s woes of late continued with another 0-4 night despite driving in the run with a double play ball in the 5th, he is now 0 for his last 19.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Well, the A’s managed to take the series from the mighty Dodgers and it’s a good thing they did it tonight because tomorrow will be no easy task, more on that in a moment. But the A’s find themselves once again within reasonable striking distance of the .500 mark at 33-36 after winning7 of their last 8 games after the sweep in Arizona. If they can keep this up and miraculously get back to .500, the outlook for the rest of the season will be much brighter as we approach the All Star break. Back to tomorrow’s matinee finale of this series, some have called it the mismatch of the season, I call it the mismatch of the century. I highly doubt anyone can find a pitching matchup between a starter who won his first game in nearly 8 years in his previous start taking on the reigning Cy Young Award winner. Can you guess which is which? The A’s send Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.76 ERA) and the Dodgers will counter with their ace Clayton Kershaw (5-3, 2.86 ERA). Keeping in mind that Kershaw is still one of the premier pitchers on the planet, he has not had the same overwhelming dominance he exhibited in 2011. I don’t think the A’s will knock him around by any means, but they’d much rather face this version than last year’s.