Tommy ‘Mow’em Down’ Milone Continues Dominance for Rochester Red Wings
There is no one that believes that Tommy Milone is happier in Rochester than he would be in Minneapolis. Clearly he would prefer to be with the Twins than with their AAA-affiliate, however that does not mean the minor league team is not loving having the left-hander on their staff. The Rochester Red Wings are finding his presence with the club to be a welcome addition that has helped catapult the team into first place in the North Division of the International League.
Monday evening the Red Wings welcomed the famed Durham Bulls to town. Milone entered the game with 14 straight scoreless innings since joining the Twins AAA team. In his two starts he had allowed just 8 hits and 2 walks while striking out 20. To say he was dominating his opponents is like saying Shaquille O’Neal is a little taller than Shawn Johnson. Mow ‘em Down Milone has been simply awesome.
On this night he had his sights firmly set on the Bulls, who entered the game 20-18 and two games behind the Charlotte Knights in the South Division of the International League. The lefty got to work right away, retiring the first six batters of the game in order, striking out the side in the second. That put the scoreless streak at 16.
In the next two innings Durham mounted a threat in each frame. Durham got a lead-off single in the third, but a double play wiped that out. Hak-Ju Lee followed with a single and stole second, but Milone got Taylor Motter to ground back to him to end the inning. Streak at 17.
In the fourth Alexi Casilla doubled to lead off the inning, and Jake Elmore singled to make it first and third with no one out. This looked like the scoreless innings streak would come to an end. J.P. Arencibia grounded right back to Milone, who was able to hold the runner at third, but his only play was at first, moving Elmore to second. Time for Mow ‘em Down to do his thing. Milone struck out Corey Brown and Eugenio Velez to end the inning. Move the streak to 18.
While Milone was keeping Durham off the scoreboard, his own took staked him to a 1-0 lead in the third. With two outs Eric Farris singled and stole second. James Beresford then continued his hot streak, lining a double into left field to score Farris. The double extended the Rochester second baseman’s hitting streak to seven games, a stretch where he has gone 8-26.
Meanwhile, back on the mound, Milone returned for the fifth and retired the Bulls in order. That moved the streak to 19 straight innings.
In the sixth Durham put together another threat to the scoreless string. Motter struck out to begin the inning, but Alexei Casilla and Jake Elmore followed with singles to put runners on first and second with one out. Arencibia flew out to center fielder Eric Farris, bringing Brown to the plate. Milone dug into his bag of tricks, striking out the Durham center fielder to end the sixth. The streak was now at 20 straight.
Milone was having to cling to a 1-0 lead through the first six innings he pitched, but in the bottom of the sixth his team gave him some breathing room. Farris singled to lead-off the bottom of the frame and advanced to second on a ground out by Beresford. One out later Josmil Pinto blasted his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall to make it 3-0. The Bulls may have come back from one down, but they were surely not going to do so behind by three; not against Mow ‘em Down Milone.
The Rochester starter retired the final nine batters in order, striking out two batters in each inning, including the final two of the game. Milone (3-0) finished with a six-hit shutout and did not walk a single guy, while striking out 13. He threw 115 pitches, 85 of which were strikes. It was an absolutely dominating performance that moved the scoreless streak to 23 straight innings since joining the Rochester Red Wings. Fans should enjoy the moment; it shouldn’t be long until he returns to the Twins at the rate he is going.
Matt Buschmann (3-3) was the tough luck loser for Durham. He pitched 7 innings, allowing just 5 hits and 3 runs, while striking out 6. Former A’s closer Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless eighth for the Bulls.
Tomorrow these two clubs will be at it again. Durham sends Scott Diamond (3-1, 3.58) to the hill. The Rochester Red Wings counter with right-hander Chih-Wei Hu, who will be making his AAA debut after going 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA for High-A Fort Myers. Game time is 11:05 local time.
By Robert Pannier