Men in blecch: Royals' Smith rocked by YankeesBy BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
If the other Will Smith, or a reasonable facsimile, is running around any of this burgs boroughs, dressed in black and packing one of those memory-erasing neuralizers
Yep, it went like that Wednesday night for Royals rookie left-hander Will Smith, whose major-league debut lasted just 31/3 rocky innings in an 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees.
Just being able to be out there, in the big leagues, Smith said, it doesnt get any better than that. That was the dream part. The outcome wasnt. Bad location. They hit them, and they hit them a long way. Ive just got to get better from here on out.
Smith served up booming homers to Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez in a three-run first inning. That set the tone. Smith got tagged again by Rodriguez in a two-run third inning.
He hit two, Smith said. I made two bad pitches, and he hit them out. He did his job.
It was eerily and regrettably reminiscent of the only other time a Royals starter made his major-league debut in the South Bronx. That was a thoroughly unprepared Eduardo Villacis, summoned from Class AA Wichita, on May 1, 2004, at the old Yankee Stadium.
Villacis also lasted just 31/3 innings and, like Smith, spewed out five runs and six hits. And the Royals bullpen, on both occasions, cratered when called upon. (How about that New York fifth? Three runs on one hit a bunt single against three relievers.)
We didnt pitch well tonight, manager Ned Yost said. We really didnt. It was just one of those nights. We threw way too many pitches. We were behind in the count. It just wasnt a good night for us.
That 2004 game, a 12-4 loss, marked the only time Villacis ever appeared in a big-league game. In contrast, Smith is generally viewed as a legitimate prospect. He should get other opportunities at least one more.
Well probably start him (Tuesday) against Cleveland, Yost said. It will give him three or four days to get into the routine of big-league baseball. Its tough to bring a guy up here and throw him into Yankee Stadium for his first major-league start.
The Royals took that gamble, in part, because the Yankees have been vulnerable against left-handed pitchers. Afterward, Yost insisted that summoning Smith was the right decision.
Yes, he said. What are we going to do? Yes. We can dissect 90 different ways. It is what it is.
While Smith struggled, Yankees veteran Andy Pettitte, at 39, turned back the clock in limiting the Royals to two runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings.
Hes reinvented himself, right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. When he was with Houston and then back with the Yankees, the majority of his pitches were cutters. That was his big pitch. Now, hes really commanding that curveball.
Hes just a guy who doesnt give you a lot to hit. What he does so well is he keeps it down. If he misses, he misses down. I think he missed up once, and that was the ball that Billy (Butler) hit out. Other than that, he did a great job of keeping us off-balance.
Pettitte, 2-1, is now 14-3 in 23 career games against the Royals, including 9-0 in 13 starts since an Aug. 18, 1999 loss. David Phelps closed out the victory, although he gave up one run in the ninth on doubles by Alcides Escobar and Eric Hosmer.
The loss prevented the Royals from winning a season series from the Yankees for the first time since 1999. New York finished with a 4-3 advantage.
Looking for positives? Hosmer had three hits two infield singles and a bloop double. That makes up for some of those hard-hit outs. Escobar raised his average to .305 by going two for four. Butler and Mitch Maier hit homers.
Finally, some stuff went my way a little bit, Hosmer said, but it was a tough game. Andy came out and pitched well. He proved why hes the pitcher he is.
Smith started well enough by retiring Derek Jeter on a grounder to short before the earth moved. Granderson crushed a 2-2 slider to right. Smith then walked Mark Teixeira before Rodriguez crushed a 2-2 fastball to left for a no-doubt, two-run homer.
Smith worked a one-two-three second inning, but Jeter opened the third with a double into the left-center gap. Jeter went to third on Grandersons sinking line-drive single to right. Teixeiras double-play grounder to second scored Jeter for a 4-0 lead.
Rodriguez followed with a homer to deep left-center field, and it was 5-0.
The Royals got on the board with Butlers one-out homer in the fourth before loading the bases on a one-out single by Francoeur and two-out singles by Escobar and Hosmer. Pettitte choked off the threat by striking out Humberto Quintero.
Smith departed after Andruw Jones one-out single in the fourth, but Luis Mendoza quickly ended the inning by getting Russell Martin to ground into a double play.
The Royals clawed back within 5-2 on Maiers leadoff homer in the fifth, but any budding comeback ended when the Yankees batted around later in the inning against Mendoza, José Mijares and Louis Coleman.
That inning was, well, dreadful.
It started with Mendoza hitting Jayson Nix before Jeter put down a bunt single, which third baseman Mike Moustakas made worse by throwing wildly to first when he probably should have eaten the ball. The error put runners on second and third.
Im making that throw every time, Moustakas argued. But that play that was such a good bunt. God bless, man. And by a guy who has more than 3,000 hits
Walks to Granderson and Teixeira forced in one run before the Royals finally got an out, on a force at home, when Rodriguez grounded to third.
After Mijares replaced Mendoza, Escobar made a nice diving stop on Robinson Canos grounder up the middle and turned it into a force at second for the second out. But a run scored, and it was 7-2.
Mijares exited after reloading the bases by hitting Nick Swisher. In came Coleman, who forced in another run by walking Andruw Jones before ending the inning when Martin flied to center.
Damage: Three runs on one hit, one error, three walks and two hit batsman. Nice, huh?
Anyone got a neuralizer?