Melvin: Every hit when we kept adding on was big
OAKLAND -- The relationship between a pitcher and his catcher is oh-so tenuous. So imagine Tommy Milone's reaction when he saw a familiar, albeit still-injured left palm scratched from the A's starting lineup card in John Jaso's Tuesday afternoon, and replaced by newbie Stephen Vogt, who had been promoted from triple-A Sacramento earlier in the day.
Vogt had never caught Milone before. And Milone would be facing a powerful Cincinnati Reds lineup in an interleague series opener.
"Basically we just talked until he felt comfortable and (knew) what kind of pitcher I was," Milone said. "He saw a little bit of tape of previous games and we just went after them."
Unfortunately for Milone, he lost sight of the strike zone and could not go the required five innings to get the victory. Fortunately for the A's, the left-hander and five relievers did enough to hold the Reds off for the 7-3 victory.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's unkind to Arroyo, defeat Reds 7-3]
Was it any coincidence, then, that Milone went a season-low 4 2/3 innings, walked a season-high four hitters, including the last three in a row he faced, and needed 103 pitches just to get to that point?
"I don't think it's a communication issue," said A's manager Bob Melvin, himself a former big league catcher. "I'm sure (Vogt) got some background on him. It's Tommy's job to teach him the first few innings, and then the catcher usually has an idea afterwards and gets caught up to speed."
Credit the A's offense, then, for staking Milone to a 6-0 lead after three innings, a 7-1 advantage after four. It gave the relationship between pitcher and catcher room for error.
"Obviously, a little bit new, but we were on the same page pretty much the whole day and having never seen him pitch really, except for highlights here and there, I think he had good stuff," Vogt said. "Just a couple of pitches we didn't execute as well as we could have but other than that I thought he did a good job.
"As far as a relationship with him, I thought we were on a pretty good page."
Milone allowed six hits and struck out two, but only 58 of his pitches were strikes.
So how tough, exactly, is it for a pitcher to throw to a catcher they've never met, let alone thrown to in a simple game of catch?
"It can be tough but you just take it as it is," Milone said. "You go out there and you still perform and when you have something like that where a guy might not know what kind of a pitcher I am or how I pitch, I've just got to take the game over in my own hands and I think he did a good job.
"I didn't really have to shake (him off) that much. I felt comfortable with what he was putting down, and that's pretty rare when a guy comes in, especially a catcher you're not familiar with."