Matt Shoemaker cobbled together easily the best (and perhaps most important) start of his career Saturday night against the Orioles, striking out a career-high 12 and allowing just three hits in 7⅓ innings of shutout ball. The plus-plus splitter that had all but abandoned him since the end of 2014 was back with a vengeance, inducing a season-high 14 whiffs on the night. He looked the picture of his rookie self, setting the Angels up for their first 1-0 win of the season.
And then Joe Smith blew it.
Something’s been wrong with Smith all year, and on Sunday the Halos finally paid dearly for it. The right-hander had Baltimore down to their last strike, but then did two things that ol’ reliable Joe Smith would never do: He walked the go-ahead run, then surrendered a soul-crushing three-run blast.
It wasn’t the first time Smith had blown a save or taken a loss this season, but it was the first real soul-crusher. Much was made of the Dale Scott’s, shall we say, adventurous strike zone in the bottom of the ninth, but none of that happens if Smith gets that last out. Hurry back, Huston Street.
Run Expectancy Rundown
Gregorio Petit had his best night at the plate as a big leaguer since 2009, notching a walk and three hits—two singles and a double—in four trips to the plate. The rest of the lineup managed only to spray a single here and there, mostly with the bases empty. The team went just 1-for-9 in RISP situations on the night, with Albert Pujols leaving seven (!) runners on all by himself.
Starting Pitcher Scores
Such an amazing start from Shoemaker. I’m so ready to dive all-in and believe that he’s rediscovered his release point with his splitter and can be amazing again, but was so bad so recently I think there’s still a ways to go before we can declare him fixed. I’m very optimistic, though.
Kevin Gausman didn’t match Shoemaker’s performance but he still threw a great game. His 6⅓ innings of one-run ball Saturday was his fourth Quality Start in six outings this year.
Joe Smith has now allowed three home runs in 22 innings this year. He allowed four home runs in 65⅓ last year and four in 74⅔ the year before that. He’s never allowed more than five home runs in any full season.
The O’s bullpen wasn’t exactly on its game, but it got outs when it needed them. Zach Britton earned his 12th save with a little extra help from the umpire.
The Angels had a 97% chance of winning before Chris Davis came to the plate in the ninth. *SIGH*
I have no way of confirming that Joe’s issues stem from his change-up, but… he posted a 2.51 ERA in 337 IP from 2011-2015 while never once throwing a change-up. He posted a 3.57 ERA in 181 IP from 2007-2010 while throwing one, and has a 4.50 ERA in 22 IP this season while throwing one. I mean…