Milone turns a corner in dominant outing vs. Sox

Milone turns a corner in dominant outing vs. Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- Since coming off the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 16, Twins left-hander Tommy Milone has had trouble going deep into games, but he reversed that trend Wednesday night.

In his previous three starts since missing 14 games with a left elbow strain, Milone couldn't get past 5 1/3 innings, but was much better against the White Sox. He scattered three hits over seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in one of his best starts of the year to lead the Twins to a 3-0 win at Target Field.

It was the first time Milone had gone seven innings since July 8, as he hadn't even reached the six-inning mark since July 31.

"I think the first thing was fastball command," Milone said. "I was able to get strike one. Against an aggressive team like this, I can expand the zone a little bit. It makes it easy."

Milone made it look that way, as he only allowed one runner to reach second base, and it came in the third after an error from shortstop Eduardo Escobar and a two-out single from Tyler Saladino. But Milone got Melky Cabrera to fly out to right to end the inning.

"He was great," third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. "That's the kind of guy he can be any given night. He keeps guys off-balance. You see the guys take big swings against him but rarely making hard contact. It just tells me he located well and changed speeds well."

Milone attacked the strike zone, throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 25 batters he faced. He was also efficient with 61 of his 91 pitches going for strikes, but Twins manager Paul Molitor opted to go to the bullpen in the eighth after a long-half inning that saw Minnesota score twice on a double from Plouffe.

"We've seen him enough to know when he's going to have a good game he's able to spot his fastball," Molitor said. "His changeup was really effective tonight. Down in the count, they just weren't able to pick it up real well. He had lots of swings and misses. He hadn't been out there through seven in a while, so we were watching him carefully."

Milone, though, said he still felt strong and could've gone back out for the eighth, but understood the decision to go to the bullpen. He added that going on the DL actually helped him stay fresh, and he's ready to help the Twins in the stretch run, as they've now won 10 of 12 to remain firmly in the mix for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"Obviously, it feels good," Milone said. "It's fun to pitch meaningful games in September. We're going through it right now, and we just have to take it one game at a time and continue to build off it and keep it going."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.