No ‘O’ in the O

Somehow, some way, despite only throwing two swinging strikes and not striking out a batter all night, Tommy Milone shut out the Royals over 8 innings of work. Must be the force.

Last night’s 1-0 victory against the Royals was one of the strangest games I’ve seen in recent memory. The score itself is pretty obvious, but when you look at Tommy Milone’s stat line, you really have to question just how the hell he managed to shut down the Royals: 8 innings, 3 hits, 3 walks, zero strikeouts. It’s rare, almost unheard of, for a pitcher to throw that many shut out innings without recording a strikeout. It gets even more insane when you consider that he also only had two swinging strikes the whole night.

Before last night’s game, all I knew about Milone is what I’d read on websites such as Athletics Nation and MLB Trade Rumors, and the general consensus seemed to be that while he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, he somehow finds a way to get batters out. Based on what I saw last night, it’s obvious that he isn’t going to blow fastballs by anyone or buckle knees with a devastating curve, but Milone does a great job of mixing up his velocity with the pitches he does have, and the hitters had trouble making hard contact. This write-up over at Athletics Nation does a great job of breaking down his performance and discussing how he was successful.

Interestingly enough, the three hits he gave up were all doubles, one each in the first three innings including the first batter of the game, Jason Bourgeois. He would be thrown out on a sensational double play in which right fielder Josh Reddick caught a liner from Lorenzo Cain and fired a strike to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who backhanded a one-hopper and put the tag on Bourgeois. In all, the Royals had three runners thrown out on the bases, no doubt an important factor in them failing to score.

Besides the wackiness that was Milone’s performance, the A’s offense decided to be completely ineffective in an odd way, collecting seven hits, none of which went for extra bases. The only run of the game came when Donaldson drove in Seth Smith with an RBI single to right. The A’s would fail to add on in that inning, and Donaldson also struck out swinging with the bases loaded to end the sixth.

Luis Mendoza went 5 2-3 innings for the Royals, striking out two and walking four, allowing five hits and the one run. Those two strikeouts came against Yoenis Cespedes, who swings at every ball like he’ll be sent back to the island if he doesn’t blast it 500 feet, resulting in plenty of misses. He was the cleanup hitter for the night, a role he’ll most likely have the rest of the year. He also drew he first Major League walk last night, so he just needs to continue to work on his patience.

Missing from the Royals lineup was Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon, who were given a day off by manager Ned Yost as both look to overcome a slow start over the weekend against the Angels, going a combined 1 for 24 in the three game series. They should be in there tonight.

Aside from the game, everybody in the right field bleachers was more than pleased last night to give Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur a warm welcome in his return to Oakland. Those of us in the bleachers became rather fond of him last year after he made a generous donation to our cause.

In case you don’t read the link, we took a liking to Jeff after he was a good sport about our harassing him last season when the Royals were in town last September. To show him our appreciation, we gave him a plate of bacon after the game. The next day, he threw up an autographed baseball with a hundred dollar bill attached, telling us a beer or bacon dog was on him. To celebrate, we decided we should make this a yearly event when Jeff and the Royals (or whatever team he’s with) come into town. We had shirts made up for the occasion, and tonight we plan on stuffing our faces with all things bacon.

I’m actually going to get a move on because I’m pretty hungry. Let’s hope the offense comes alive tonight to support Graham Godfrey, and that Yost plays Francoeur in right since I read earlier that Mitch Maier may draw a start this series.

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