Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Nov. 29
Rays walk off in bottom of the ninth to beat the Padres
Evan Longoria hit a walk-off 2-run homer to down the Padres after the Padres came back from four runs down
Burch Smith had his first outing in the major leagues and it’s one he’ll never forget. Smith failed to record an out in the second inning and gave up six runs, and even though the Padres came back, Tampa Bay nailed closer Huston Street with a walk-off 2-run home run in the ninth inning and the Rays beat the Padres 8-7 on Saturday.
Chase Headley hit a 2-run home run in the first inning to put the Padres on top early, Headley’s fourth of the season, but in the bottom of the second inning, Burch Smith melted down. Walks, hits, a home run, a double, the Rays chased Smith in his debut as they batted around in the process.
In the seventh inning, the Padres loaded the bases and Jesus Guzman pinch-hit a grand slam to tie the score. In the same inning, with Jamey Wright relieving Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, the Padres loaded the bases again and Carlos Quentin drew a walk and the Padres were up 7-6.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Huston Street came in to get the save, but after walking Ben Zobrist with two outs, Street hung a slider that Evan Longoria crushed to center field for the walk-off win. It was Street’s first blown save this year.
The Padres have decided to give Burch Smith another start. Smith’s fastball began at between 94 and 98 MPH in the first inning but slowed noticeably in the second inning.
His secondary pitches weren’t stellar - his cut-fastball was hittable, and the curve and change-up weren’t effective. Smith will have to consistently have innings like the first inning where he struck out the first two hitters and got the third hitter to ground out.
Smith’s fastball has turned into a big pitch. Some scouts have noted that his secondary pitches still need work, and that was evident on Saturday. But even if his secondary pitches improve, having command of that fastball for more than one inning is necessary to have success in the big leagues.
Watching Huston Street blow a save, it should come as no surprise that he isn’t going to be perfect. Huston is a solid closer, but the sinker-slider-change combination in his arsenal is prone to being hittable if any mistake is made.
Huston knows that he isn’t going to be perfect. Now, Burch Smith has learned that lesson, and if he’s going to be effective in the big leagues, then he’ll have to figure out a way to pitch four or five innings more than he did in his debut.
The corresponding move to bring up Burch Smith onto the 25-man roster was to send Brad Boxberger back down to AAA Tucson. Boxberger has been up and down more times than Kim Kardashian has, um, been rumored to have been engaged. No idea how long Smith stays up, but according to manager Buddy Black, he’ll get at least one more start.
On Sunday, the Padres will try to salvage one game of the series against Tampa Bay. Eric Stults (3-2, 4.50) will throw for the Friars against Roberto Hernandez (1-4, 4.66) for the Rays. First pitch is scheduled for 10:40 AM PDST, so make yourself a Bloody Mary and tune in on radio 1090 AM or watch Fox Sports San Diego for the visuals.
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- Who in the hell is Burch Smith and why is he starting for the Padres on Saturday? — May 11, 2013
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