Harrisburg Senators left-hander Tom Milone enjoyed a career night this week with 12 strikeouts in a victory at Binghamton. Milone went 6 and a 1/3rd innings, scattering seven hits, with no walks and the 12 whiffs. He allowed a single run on a solo homer.
Milone has put together a solid season for the Sens, going 8-5 this season with a 2.97 ERA. The Southern Cal product has 61 strikeouts in his last 59 and 1/3rd innings. He has shown tremendous control recently as well, allowing only two walks in the past five starts.
"I was pretty excited about the 12 strikeouts. I think I had 14 in one game once at USC, but this was the best I had done in the minor leaguers by far. Milone said his previous season high was 9 strikeouts.
But it didn't start as smoothly as you might expect for a pitcher getting that many strikeouts.
"I was having trouble spotting my fast ball in the bullpen. It followed me to the mound a little before I was able to settle down.
"So with my fastball not spotting early, I relied on my changeup and had a lot of success getting guys out."
Milone notched three strikeouts in the first inning, all on the changeup.
"I threw five cutters which cut into right handed hitters and backed them off the plate. I used the curve really as a 'show-me curve' to say to the hitter, 'yes, I have one.' But they kept swinging and missing on the changeup, so I stuck with the change the whole night."
Milone thinks he threw 26 changeups and 10 curveballs in the outing.
He had no walks in the game. "There were a few three ball counts. I did my best to make the hitters work their way on base. I wasn't just going to walk them."
Pitching coach Randy Tomlin helped Milone early on in the season to hone his mechanics.
"He helped me at the beginning of the season when I was flying open too soon. He was getting me to establish a strong front side. I worked to throw quality strikes low in the zone. I worked to make sure my fast ball wasn't spotting up too much.
Milone estimates his fastball is clocked at 86-88 MPH, and his changeup at 78-79 MPH.
"My main thing this year has been to focus on throwing quality strikes down in the zone.
"Last year in Potomac, I would give up five runs in one game and then zero runs in the next. I was up and down. This year I have been more consistent in trying to avoid rocky starts. I am feeling really good."