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Tommy Milone

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Tomaso Anthony Milone

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Left-handed pitcher Tom Milone had a memorable major league debut for the Washington Nationals on September 3, 2011. Making the start against the New York Mets at Nationals Park, he retired the first 6 batters he saved, then hit the first pitch he saw from Dillon Gee in the bottom of the 2nd inning for a three-run homer, giving him a 5-0 lead. As broadcaster F.P. Santangelo put it: "That's officially the coolest thing I've seen this year". However, after that auspicious debut, Milone faltered, giving up 4 runs in the 4th, including a two-run homer by Nick Evans, and leaving the game with one out in the 5th. The Nationals eventually won the game, 8-7, but Milone did not feature in the decision. He had been a good hitter in the minor leagues as well, going 9 for 26 (.346) for the AAA Syracuse Chiefs during the season. He made 5 starts for the Nats, going 1-0, 3.81 with a solid 15/4 K/W ratio in 26 innings.

Milone had a lot of success in the minor leagues after being picked in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft out of the University of Southern California. He was signed by scout Craig Kornfeld and put up a 1-6 mark - but with a solid 3.51 ERA - for two teams in 2008, then had the first of three consecutive excellent seasons in 2009. He went 12-5, 2.91 for the Potomac Cannons, yet somehow did not make the Carolina League All-Star team. In 2010, he moved up to the AA Harrisburg Senators, and was again 12-5, with a 2.85 ERA in 27 starts, and this time was an All-Star in the Eastern League. Then with Syracuse in 2010, he went 12-6 in 24 starts, with a 3.22 ERA, and was an International League All-Star. His strikeout rate improved in each of the three seasons, even as he was climbing levels: from striking out 106 batters in 151 1/3 innings in 2009, he moved to 155 in 158 innings in AA, and then struck out over a batter per inning - 155 in 148 1/3 innings in AAA, earning him his first shot in the bigs. However, because of he was not drafted in the top rounds and does not have overpowering stuff, he did not make Baseball America's top 100 prospect list in spite of his excellent minor league results.

On December 22, 2011, Milone was one of four prospects the Nationals sent to the Oakland Athletics in return for young All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez; joining Milone were Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Derek Norris. He secured his spot in the A's starting rotation for 2012 when he pitched 6 perfect innings against the AAA Sacramento River Cats in a Cactus League outing on March 31st, needing only 80 pitches. Andrew Carignan added a hitless 7th - although he did walk a pair - to combine on a rain-shortened no-hitter. On June 20th, he pitched his first career complete game in beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 - 1, on a three-hitter. That improved his record at home to 5-1, 0.99, showing that his style as a fly ball pitcher is perfectly suited to the vast expanses of Oakland's Coliseum. He finished his rookie season at 13-10, 3.74 in 31 starts and 190 innings. He then started Game 2 of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers on October 7th and did well, allowing only a run in 6 innings, but he was not involved in the decision as the A's lost, 5-4.

In 2013, he was back in the Athletics' starting rotation, making 26 starts out of his 28 appearances. He finished the season at 12-9, 4.14, with 156 1/3 innings pitched. He also made a couple of starts in AAA for the Sacramento RiverCats, with no record and a 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings. He was not used in the postseason when the A's lost to the Tigers in the Division Series once again. In 2014, he was 6-3, 3.55 after 16 starts when he drew the short straw when the A's acquired two frontline starters in a July 4th blockbuster trade, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, being sent down to Sacramento. Even worse for him, he had started the year 0-3, but had since won 6 straight times with a 2.62 ERA in his last 11 starts.

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