2011: A Chiefs Odyssey. Kevin’s Number 12.
I think I erased that entire day from my mind because of the postgame fiasco. Not sure if you’re going to get into this, but to sum it up – 13 innings and 4-plus hours + Sabres traffic + Buffalo to Allentown + fog + hotel fiasco = 5:30 AM bed time. Boy, was that fun.
It was tremendously difficult to narrow down a Top 12, and honorable mention goes out to Jeff Frazier’s 1.2 scoreless innings as a reliever. But I digress. As I worked through a near-final copy of the list, I realized I didn’t have any specifically Tommy Milone-related moments on there. How could that be possible? Milone was the Chiefs’ best pitcher by far this season – heck, you could probably make a case for him as the team’s MVP if you tried.
#12 – Tommy twirls a gem
On June 27, the Chiefs closed out a four-game series against Rochester. After a 9-2 win the day before, Syracuse sent Milone out to the mound against left-hander Scott Diamond. And the Chiefs staked him with about five games’ worth of runs.
Syracuse banged out 11 runs on 19 hits, with eight of the nine players in the lineup collecting multi-hit games. (Only the soon-to-be-promoted Jesus Flores was held hitless.) Steve Lombardozzi went 3 for 6, upping his average to .441, and Corey Brown drove in four runs, with three coming on a fourth-inning home run to blow the scoring open.
But the story of the game was Milone. He cruised through a relatively weak Rochester lineup throughout the first three innings. He went 1-2-3 in the fourth. He went 1-2-3- in the fifth. It was as virtuoso as virtuoso performances get. Milone then retired Toby Gardenhire and Steve Singleton in the sixth. 17 up and 17 down, before ninth-place hitter Danny Lehmann stepped to the plate. The catcher hit the weakest ball all day off of Milone – a little dribbler down the third base line. But the ball was hit too softly for third baseman Tug Hulett to make any kind of play on it, and Lehmann broke up Milone’s perfect game bid.
Should 5.2 innings of perfection in a 9-inning game seem that memorable? Perhaps not. But I truly felt at times on that night that Milone was never going to give up a hit. Aaron Bates did double in the seventh – but by then, the mindset of throwing a hitless performance was gone. If Lehmann doesn’t get a hit on a ball that rolled about 30 feet, Milone may still be pitching without a hit allowed in the game. He was that good on that night.
That game against Rochester kick-started a string of four consecutive starts for Milone with zero or one runs allowed. The four-game tally: 28.2 innings, 16 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 25 strikeouts. Nothing new in a line of surgical performances for the Chiefs’ most valuable pitcher.
Number 11, Jason?