Former Atlanta Brave and current Red Sox pitcher John Smoltz made his return to action last night against America’s Team, and those Washington Nationals welcomed him back through public humiliation, scoring four runs on Smoltz in the first inning and handing the former Cy Young Award winner a 9-3 loss. From Y! Sports:
Smoltz (0-1), who spent his previous 20 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, needed 34 pitches to get through the first inning, when the Nationals hit him hard by pulling pitches high in the strike zone. He settled down after that, giving up a run in the third but retiring the side in order in the second, fourth and fifth. His final line: five innings, seven hits, five runs, one walk, one hit batter and five strikeouts in 92 pitches.
“I was excited,” manager Terry Francona said. “I know it was a tough game, but if he throws the ball like that, if he feels like that physically, he’s going to be just fine.”
Smoltz’s one-year deal with the Sox is especially notable, as that team was prepared to let him rehab from surgery on a torn labrum until he was ready to play. The Atlanta Braves, the only other team for whom Smoltz played in his 21 seasons of big league ball, were not as gracious. But nobody seems to be flipping out about the rough start. And for that, I give credit to the beard. When’s the last time you ever doubted the abilities of anyone with a beard? I thought so.