Milone pitches to contact, nearly gets first shutout

Lefty takes one-hitter into 9th in longest start since joining Twins in 2014

Milone pitches to contact, nearly gets first shutout

DETROIT -- It has been four years since Tommy Milone threw the lone nine-inning complete game of his career. Tuesday night at Comerica Park, Milone entered the ninth three outs away from notching his first career shutout.

Milone, however, ran into a bit of a wall in the ninth, allowing three straight hits to lead off the inning. After giving up a Nick Castellanos sacrifice fly with runners at the corners, Milone's night was over after 8 1/3 innings. He delivered his best outing of the season -- and his longest as a Twin -- giving up two earned runs on four hits, with four strikeouts, in Minnesota's 6-2 win over Detroit.

Milone picked up his third win of the month as the Twins earned their first win over the Tigers in eight tries this season.

"Obviously it's no secret that we've struggled against them this year," Milone said, "so it's always nice to get that first one out of the way, and hopefully we can get on a roll and keep it going."

Milone entered the game knowing the Tigers had a strong lineup, so he was hoping to pitch for contact and keep the ball down in the zone. Milone was able to use inside fastballs to set up his changeup, a pitch that produced 15 of his 25 outs.

"Pitches started getting up, and they started hitting the ball for hits," Milone said of the ninth inning. "It's unfortunate, but there are obviously a lot of positives to take out of this game."

Some of those hard-hit balls were hit right at defenders, however, including a liner from Miguel Cabrera that was snagged by first baseman Joe Mauer. Milone said it's easier to pitch knowing he has a reliable defense.

Mauer's diving play

"It just gives you that confidence to go out there and continue to attack the zone," he said. "Not afraid for them to hit it."

Manager Paul Molitor felt confident in bringing Milone back out for the ninth inning because the Twins had provided five insurance runs in the seventh.

"If he was good, he was going back out," Molitor said. "I felt comfortable. Pitch count wasn't really an issue. It was a nice night to pitch. I might as well give him a chance there to see if he could finish it off."

Molitor had said before Tuesday's game that Milone has been making some adjustments that enable him to stick in games longer.

"He's had a little trouble once the hitters have seen him a couple times," Molitor said. "Tonight he seemed to have a nice mix. He threw enough strikes."

The win moves Milone to 3-0 in July with a 2.33 ERA.

Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.