Tommy Milone took a one-hitter into the ninth inning Tuesday, He didn't get the shutout; he didn't even get through the ninth. But it was still undoubtedly the best start of his Twins tenure.
He's now had three decent starts in a row, although the previous two were six innings and five innings -- not exactly working deep into games. The radio guys were, of course, talking all through the middle innings about Milone's difficulties earlier in the season getting through the fourth and fifth innings. In his first six starts, he got through the fifth exactly once.
But in his most recent three starts he's pitched 19.1 innings with five earned runs -- a 2.32 ERA. His ERA has dropped from 6.23 to 4.71. That's not a good ERA, to be sure. But the Twins have given starts to nine different pitchers, and only Ervin Santana and Milone have ERAs under 5.
In Minnesota, this was overshadowed by the firing of Terry Ryan, but a federal judge on Monday sentenced Christopher Correa, former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals, to 46 months in prison for repeatedly hacking into the Houston Astros' player evaluation data base.
Now we'll see how hard Commissioner Rob Manfred hits the Cardinals for this violation. Earlier this year Manfred stripped the Boston Red Sox of five prospects and banned them from signing any international free agents in the current signing period for violating the signing bonus rules. It was a pretty harsh penalty. I think that the Correa case is ethically worse than the Red Sox case, but that's just me.
However ... by hitting the Red Sox, Manfred was punishing an team whose owners were opposed to his elevation to the job. The Cardinals' principal owner was, in contrast, very much in favor of Manfred for commissioner.
It's easy enough to be hard on one's political opponents. Let's see how Manfrec handles his allies.
Fun with small sample sizes: Cory Provus talked quite a bit during Tuesday's game about the Tigers' problems with outfield defense. Meanwhile, Max Kepler was charged with his third error in right field.
My sense of things is that the current Minnesota collection of outfielders is pretty good defensively, I wouldn't play Danny Santana in center as often as Paul Molitor does, but basically, the five outfielders (Byron Buxton, Robbie Grossman, Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Santana) all have at least marginal center field speed, with Grossman probably the slowest of the five.
Anyway ... I took a look early this morning at Kepler's defensive metrics as listed on Baseball Reference. He rates better in Total Zone than in Runs Saved in right field (366.2 innings), but above average in both.
But I had to smile at his centerfield ratings. He's had one start in center with three other appearances, a total of 21 innings. By Total Zone, he was slightly below average in those innings; by Runs Saved, he was awesome, on pace for 51 runs saved over the course of a season.
Twenty-one innings means nothing in an evaluative sense, of course, but that's a wide range of variation.