OAKLAND -- Tommy Milone suspected a change was coming. He first noticed the shift while watching the A's play on TV. The cameras would zoom in on Oakland's starters, and there they were: mustaches, sported by the rotation with varied success since their trip to Toronto earlier in the week.
Dan Straily sent a photo of his progress to Milone, who was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento earlier this month and will start Sunday in place of Bartolo Colon, while A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker -- ringleaders of the operation -- officially extended the invitation to join in.
"Jarrod and I just kind of had mustaches at the same time," Griffin said. "We decided we'd just have mustaches, and we got some of the other guys to do it too."
"Each day, obviously one of the starters is throwing so we don't talk to him," Parker added. "When we're in the dugout, you know, killing nine innings of baseball, we have to think of things to entertain ourselves."
The interesting thing about the mustaches is that none of them look particularly good. Griffin's flaunts the most growth, while Parker's is a throwback to a simpler, greasier time. Sonny Gray, Oakland's 23-year-old right-hander, has struggled to keep pace.
"He hasn't hit puberty yet," A's middle reliever Jesse Chavez said.
Parker yielded one run in a career-best 8 1/3 innings in his last start against the Astros and is 6-0 with a 2.55 ERA over his last 14 starts. All the credit, he said, goes to the mustache.
"It's been really effective lately," Parker said. "It's been able to keep the ball down, change speeds. It's got a good breaking ball, too."
Parker added that his looks the best, though Griffin felt similarly about the golden accessory atop his upper lip.
"I don't even know if there is a best," Milone said. "I'm definitely aware of it, and I've definitely been told that I need to start growing a mustache. We'll see."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.