Reliable rookies made postseason history
A's may be down in series, but Parker and Milone have performed well
No team relied on a rookie rotation more this season than the A's, and no team in baseball history had ever sent a pair of rookies to the mound to start Games 1 and 2 of a playoff series, like Oakland did with Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone this weekend to begin its American League Division Series against Detroit.
The A's are in a 0-2 hole as they return to the Coliseum attempting to force three more games in the best-of-five series, but it has little to do with Parker and Milone, who manager Bob Melvin believes long ago stopped performing like rookies.
Milone took a no-decision Sunday, when the A's lost on a walk-off. The left-hander, acquired from Washington in the offseason, pitched six innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and striking out six. Parker pitched into the seventh in Saturday's opener, but took a loss after allowing three runs -- two earned.
The duo combined for 26 wins in the regular season, nearly half of the 54 wins by Oakland rookies.
"We kind of, unspoken, we've done it together," Parker said. "And we kind of knew we had to pick the other guys up."
Melvin figures to start Brett Anderson in Game 3 if he is healthy and not A.J. Griffin, who won seven games in the regular season. Griffin is the third rookie starter in Oakland's playoff rotation.
A four-year veteran, Anderson is the most experienced member of the A's rotation, though he started only six games this season after returning from Tommy John surgery, then straining his right oblique at the end of the regular season.
But Parker is the only starter with postseason experience, recording one out in the National League Division series last season for Arizona. He threw only 5 2/3 innings in the regular season for the D-Backs, allowing him to maintain his rookie status as he led an Oakland rotation that made history with its Game 1 and 2 starters.
"I'm extremely proud of both of us," Milone said. "We've had some bumps and bruises along the way, but here in the end, we've come out, I think, stronger for it. I feel like [Parker has] put on a heavy workload himself. He's kind of our unspoken ace right now."
Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.