The Royals must have thought A’s rookie Tom Milone was a nasty left-hander when they sat lefty bats Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas on Monday night. They went on to make him look like one, kind of anyway.
Tommy Milone became the first pitcher in six years to finish an outing with at least eight scoreless innings and no strikeouts as part of a 1-0 win over the Royals. He allowed three hits and three walks in the 93-pitch outing before turning the ball over to closer Grant Balfour in the ninth.
The last pitcher to go eight scoreless without a strikeout was Justin Verlander against the Twins on May 17, 2006. Verlander also went without a walk in that one, though he still threw 103 pitches in his eight innings. Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees pulled off the same feat five days prior on May 12, 2006, with eight scoreless, strikeout-less innings against the A’s.
Before that, it hadn’t been done since Scott Erickson of the Orioles shut out the Royals on April 28, 2002. Milone is the first left-hander to do it since the Pirates’ Jimmy Anderson against the Cardinals on July 22, 2001.
Many are skeptical of Milone since he works in the high-80s and doesn’t feature a great breaking ball. What he does have is command, a plus changeup and a delivery that makes him tough to read. The combination helped him go 12-6 with a 3.22 ERA and a 155/16 K/BB ratio in 148 1/3 innings for Triple-A Syracuse last year. The A’s picked him up from the Nationals over the winter as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade.
Whether Milone can keep this up is unclear. Certainly, he won’t be able to without any strikeouts, but he did have excellent K rates his last two years in the minors. As a soft-tosser, he’ll always be doubted until he experiences extended success in the majors.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.