The Washington Times - September 4, 2011, 12:41AM

Here are the facts: Tom Milone threw 74 pitches in his major league debut. Fifty-one of them were strikes. Six got hit, four turned into runs. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and was pulled with a man on first and one out in the fifth. He picked up his first major league strikeout (on three pitches to Angel Pagan in the second) and his second (on six pitches to Jose Reyes).

He also came completely as advertised. He was calm, cool and collected on the mound. He faced 19 batters and took just two of them to three ball counts. He never appeared rattled, seemed to hit every spot — even on a two-run homer by Nick Evans — and just happened to make a little history when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second.

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Milone stroked a first-pitch fastball deep into the Nationals bullpen, setting off a frenzied celebration among the relievers and necessitating a curtain call as the 34,821 in attendance (including Milone’s parents, girlfriend, friends and two high school coaches from California that compiled a group of about 10) roared for the rookie pitcher.

The Nationals won the game hours later when Ryan Zimmerman delivered the 14th walk-off hit of his career but Milone’s debut was still a hot topic in the clubhouse.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson: 

“I heard he was a pretty good hitter, but I was more impressed with his pitching. I thought it was outstanding. The thing about the home run, that takes a little energy from you. You get real high, you take a curtain call, first (start of your career) you use up a lot of energy just getting up to the start. I was real impressed. He’s a pitcher.”

On why he decided to pull him: “I know everybody wanted me to stay with him just one of my rules. Young pitchers, when they pitch a good ballgame. I didn’t want to take a chance of him losing.”

On Milone’s lack of hesitation to pitch inside: “That’s him. That’s what everybody who had seen him said and his numbers show it. He goes right after them. He was very calm in the situation. I was very impressed.”

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond:

“It was awesome. I think watching other teams and watching our team, there’s certain players that have the fortitude inside them to rise up to the occasion. He didn’t seem shaken or bothered out there at all by anything. He looked as comfortable as he would have in A-ball or whatever. I think he rose to the occasion today.”  

On the homer: “it was a no doubter. Right off the bat I put my hands up like he was my brother or something. It was awesome. It was fun.”

On how impressive Milone was overall: “I think majority of pitchers who throw 90 mph would have tired to throw 95. He went out there and made it work. He’s easy, it’s free. He’s not trying to do too much. He’s like, obviously not Livo but on the same lines of his perception, understanding the game and how to be a professional pitcher. He hit almost every spot. That’s awesome. I wish we had 20 guys like that who threw 90 and hit their spots. It makes it so much easier to play the game.”

Nationals left-hander Tom Milone:

“I felt good. In the fourth inning, I felt like I made some good pitches, but these are good hitters. Sometimes that’s going to happen. You’ve got to battle and make better pitches to get these guys out. I felt like overall I did a good job.

On his home run: “I was in the on-deck circle and I was telling myself, if I get a first pitch fastball I was going to swing at it. In Triple-A I feel like the pitchers just throw fastballs so just like today I would hack at a first pitch. Today it was just surreal. I went up there hoping for a fastball first pitch and I got it and I hit it over the fence.

“When I was running down the first base line it was almost like I was dreaming. It felt almost like I didn’t feel it come off the bat. It felt that good. I wasn’t really sure if it was a home run yet but once it kept traveling and I was running down the line, I knew it.”

On the curtain call: “I don’t even know what I was thinking. It was just such a good feeling that the crowd was into it. Minor league games, there’s not very many people that go to those games. To have the crowd like that pulling for you and after you do something good like that they want you to come out and show yourself again, it’s definitely a great feeling. The whole team was yelling at me. I was about to sit down on the bench and they were like, ‘No, you’ve got to get back up.’

“I don’t even know how to describe it. I got back in the dugout and my adrenaline was definitely pumping twice as hard as it was whe I was out there pitching. It was just such a good feeling.

On his performance overall: “In the end, we win so it’s definitely a good day. For me myself, I felt like I went out there and threw the ball well. It definitely wasn’t the outcome that I hope for. I want to go deeper in the game and give the bullpen a rest because that’s what starters do but for the most part, we come out with the win, that’s definitely a good day.”

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman:

“All the guys from Triple-A said that he can hit and then, first pitch homer… He threw well too. It was fun to play behind him. He works quick.

“He doesn’t really get too excited. He’s a pretty mellow guy. That’s a great quality to have.”

On the curtain call: “That was a pretty cool moment, one I’ll never forget.”