MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Shane Komine has walked eight batters and struck out only one in his two starts for Oakland.
Komine kicked around
The Kalani grad gives up a pair of home runs in his second start
OAKLAND, Calif. » Shane Komine stood in front of his locker late last night, patiently answering the same question over and over.
"I left a lot of balls up in the zone," he said. A minute later, another reporter would join the pack and ask about the two home runs Komine surrendered.
"I left a couple of balls up in the zone," he said again.
Life in the major leagues can be that way. Eight days after Komine's major league debut, an impressive one-run, six-inning outing against the Toronto Blue Jays, he was brought back to earth by the Texas Rangers. Komine was in trouble in all three of his innings, allowing a pair of two-run homers in the third and left the game with his Oakland A's down 4-0. The A's, however, came back to win the game 7-6.
"I didn't feel that sharp out there," Komine said. "I was behind every batter. When that happens, you aren't very successful."
After Komine got out of jams in the first two innings, it caught up to him in the third. Michael Young bombed a two-run blast to center field and Mark DeRosa put a two-run shot on the stairs in left. Komine did finish the inning but after 70 pitches -- just 33 of them strikes -- his night was through.
"The Young at-bat -- a two-run homer -- that was a 2-0 fastball," A's manager Ken Macha noted. "DeRosa -- a first pitch up. He hadn't pitched in a while. That's life as a starter."
The 25-year old Honolulu native now will play the waiting game. Oakland has an off day tomorrow and could decide to give him another long layoff, another start, or send him back down to Triple-A Sacramento.
"We're going to talk about that (today)," Macha said.
It's been a long road to the majors for Komine. For starters, at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, he's a little small for a major league pitcher. At Nebraska, he earned Big-12 freshman of the year in 1999 when he went 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA. He then was named Big-12 pitcher of the year as a sophomore and
junior, combining to go 25-6. Despite the impressive numbers, he was drafted in the 19th round of the 2001 free-agent draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He returned to Nebraska for his senior season and went 10-0 with a 2.33 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 97 innings.
Mark Teixeira congratulated teammate Michael Young after Young's two-run homer off Shane Komine in the third inning.
That improved his draft position to the ninth round. The A's took him and he began to work his way through the system. He finished the 2003 season at Double-A Midland and ended up 10-6 overall. He also pitched at Single-A Kane County with a combined ERA of 3.08.
But the next year he ran into elbow problems. After 17 starts (4-5, 4.77), Komine was shut down and underwent Tommy John ligament surgery. He returned last summer and went 2-1 in 11 starts at three minor league levels. He was promoted to Sacramento to start this season and started slow -- after a June 14 start at Tacoma, Komine was 3-6 with a 6.10 ERA. Then, things turned around.
Komine appeared in relief and took a loss, then rattled off six consecutive wins as a starter. In those six games, he allowed two earned runs in 42 1/3 innings (0.42 ERA), earned his first shutout of the season and lowered his season ERA to 3.89. When he was called up on July 28, he led Sacramento in wins (nine), games started (19), innings (120 1/3) and strikeouts (101).
That run carried over into his A's debut on July 30. After allowing Reed Johnson's lead off home run, Komine blanked the Blue Jays for the rest of his six innings on just three more hits. The A's came back to win that game on a Milton Bradley home run.
But with an off day last Thursday, Oakland decided to push Komine back in the rotation. He sat until yesterday, and never looked in sync.
The good news was that a pair of A's homers in the fourth off of Kevin Millwood got Komine off the hook. Nick Swisher hit a three-run bomb and Jay Payton followed with a solo shot and it was 4-4. Oakland later went up 7-4, then held on in the ninth, winning the game when DeRosa was called for batter's interference while swinging at strike three from Huston Street. Jerry Hairston, who was running on the pitch, was declared out for a double play.