The 25-year-old rookie, though, could be in for one of his toughest tests yet against a New York Yankees club that appears to have found its groove.
Looking to become the first A’s pitcher to win his first five home starts since the team moved to Oakland, Milone tries to slow down the Yankees, who aim for a ninth consecutive road win in this series and a season-best fifth consecutive victory overall Sunday afternoon.
Acquired from Washington during the offseason, Milone (6-3, 3.75 ERA) has experienced his ups and downs in his first year with Oakland (22-25). The left-hander, 2-3 with a 7.16 ERA over five road starts, has in contrast been nearly untouchable at home, where he’s 4-0 with a 0.60 ERA while scattering 16 hits and five walks over 30 frames.
Milone pitched seven innings of one-run ball and threw 73 of his career-high 108 pitches for strikes during Monday’s 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
“Tremendous amount of confidence right now,” he said. “It’s easy when you have such a big park with a lot of foul territory. I feel like when I’m here, I’m not afraid to pitch to contact.”
Milone has a chance to become the first pitcher in team history to win his first five home starts since Dave Wickersham did so while the A’s were located in Kansas City in 1962. Doing so, however, could prove difficult in the finale of this three-game set.
After hitting .211 during a 1-6 slide May 15-21, New York (25-21) is batting .299 while averaging 6.5 runs during its four-game winning streak. The Yankees collected 14 hits and posted their highest run total in nearly three weeks Saturday in a 9-2 victory.
Mark Teixeira went 4 for 5 with two homers and five RBIs while Robinson Cano belted his third long ball in four games. Teixeira, who has hit three homers in his last two games, raised his average to .248 - the highest its been since April 27.
“Another guy who can carry your club for a while,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s how hot he can get. He swung the bat great today … It’s good to see.”
The Yankees give the ball to Hiroki Kuroda (3-6, 4.56), who like Milone, has struggled mightily on the road.
The right-hander has compiled a 6.23 ERA while losing each of his four starts as the visiting pitcher. He is 0-6 with a 5.40 ERA over his last seven road outings dating to last season.
Kuroda most recently allowed three runs, seven hits and three walks over 5 1-3 innings of Monday’s 6-0 home loss to Kansas City.
In his only career appearance against Oakland, Kuroda gave up five runs in six frames of a 5-4 loss June 17, 2009, while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He, however, seems to have a favorable matchup against an A’s club in the midst of a season-worst four-game skid.
Josh Reddick continues to be a rare bright spot for Oakland, which is batting .140 and has been limited to six runs during its funk. Reddick hit his second homer in as many days Saturday - his team-leading 13th this year.
“I’m happy I’m swinging the bat but unfortunately we’re not winning games,” Reddick said. “We have a team full of power and they know we’ll turn it around.”
The A’s have been outscored 49-14 during their eight-game home losing streak to the Yankees and have dropped 28 of 34 in this series overall.