It wasn't an All-Star performance. It wasn't a winning effort. In fact, it was a rather unmemorable pitching line taken on its own. But what Will Smith provided for the Kansas City Royals in a losing effort to the Seattle Mariners was a glimpse of light that someone could at least go several innings and keep the Royals in the game.
Smith threw just over six innings and allowed four earned runs while walking two and striking out five. If that sounds uninspired, you'd be right. But you'd also be forgetting the fact that the Royals were bleeding this entire week with pitchers who couldn't make it out of the second inning and to get through the fifth was a major achievement. Smith made his Major League debut earlier this year, but it's clear he's more comfortable this time around.
"He commanded the ball much better," manager Ned Yost said. "He kept the ball down, changed speeds really well, didn't make near as many mistakes over the course of the game and did a nice job of getting us into the seventh inning. If we weren't facing Felix Hernandez, we were still in the game. It was 4-1 at that time. He did a nice job of keeping us in the game, going deep in the game, giving us a chance."
Even Smith himself realized that he was a different pitcher than his first time in the Majors, when he started three games for the Royals to go 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA.
"I was able to slow the game down this time," Smith said. "Last time I was up here, the game was going so fast for me. I was able to take some deep breaths before my pitches and execute."
Smith had only allowed four earned runs in his last four minor league starts, so it's clear he was pitching his best baseball of the season when the Royals called him back up. With more experience, Smith is going to be able to hone his natural talent into something the Royals can use.
It might not be much but the Royals will take anything they can get at this point.
Read more on the Royals at Royals Review and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over toLookout Landing and SB Nation Seattle for more on the Mariners. Baseball Nation is your source for news and analysis around Major League Baseball.