Brett Tomko was pretty upset the day the Yankees designated him for assignment. Maybe with good reason.
He felt he had done enough to make the team out of spring training, posting an ERA of 1.17 in 15 appearances. The Yankees disagreed and sent him to Scranton to work as a short reliever.
Tomko did what he was told and did it well. He had an 0.64 ERA in 14 innings and struck out 18. But when the Yankees called him up in May, it was just as fodder. Tomko was on the roster for 73 days and appeared in 15 games, getting only 20.2 innings.
Tomko was designated for assignment on July 21 and released July 29. The Yankees offered him the opportunity to go back to Scranton and start but he refused.
He instead signed with Oakland and as fate would have it, he was called up to face the Yankees tonight.
You know what happened next. Tomko threw five scoreless innings and the Athletics won 3-0.
Put yourself in Tomko’s shoes for a second. What would you have said when four Yankees beat writers and a radio reporter came over to ask a few questions?
Brett took the high road.
“When I got the call that I would be facing the Yankees, it was kind of emotional,” he said. “But I had no bad feelings against the Yankees. It worked out for the best. I wanted to start again and Oakland had a game plan.”
Oakland made sense for Tomko. He makes his home in San Diego and his wife is a month away from having twins. The Athletics, who are well out of contention, will want to protect their young arms down the stretch and Tomko will get a chance to pitch and audition for a contract in 2010.
It’s embarrassing to the Yankees to lose to a guy with a 5.23 ERA making his first start since May of 2008. But Tomko made pitches when he had to make them. When A-Rod came up with the bases loaded in the third inning, Tomko located a cutter and Alex tapped it feebly back to the mound. The rare 1-2-3 double play ended the inning.
Tomko hopes the Yankees lose the next two games then go on to the World Series.
“I have a lot of good relationships there,” he said. “As much as I wanted to show them what I could have done, I tried to take that could of it. I just wanted to make pitches and I felt like I did that.”