BALTIMORE -- Dwight Smith Jr. has seen the highlights, because who in baseball hasn’t. Adam Engel robbing Greg Bird of a home run in Chicago. Adam Engel going airborne to snatch one away from future teammate Yonder Alonso. Adam Engel going over the wall and coming down with the ball,
BALTIMORE -- Dwight Smith Jr. has seen the highlights, because who in baseball hasn’t. Adam Engel robbing Greg Bird of a home run in Chicago. Adam Engel going airborne to snatch one away from future teammate Yonder Alonso. Adam Engel going over the wall and coming down with the ball, again and again.
Which is why it was with some poetic irony that Smith gave the noted home run thief a taste of his own medicine Tuesday night, scaling the left-field wall at Oriole Park to take a homer away from Engel in the second inning of Baltimore’s 9-1 win.
“He probably doesn’t like the feeling on the other side of that,” Smith cracked afterwards.
Back in the starting lineup after missing a game due to right quad tightness, Smith raced to the wall, leaped, and in one fluid motion proved his legs are just fine. The catch took away what would’ve been Engel’s second homer of the year and marked the first robbery of the year for the Orioles, who lead all Major League clubs in homers allowed.
“My body rejuvenates pretty quickly,” Smith said. I didn’t know how far it was going to go, but as soon as I saw it dropping down, I new I had a chance with it.”
“Heck of a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s played great defense up to this point, plus [hit] five homers. I’d love to keep him healthy and keep him in the lineup.”
It’s easy to see why. A blocked prospect for much of his career, Smith has emerged as one of the Orioles' most consistent contributors during his first extended look as a big league regular. Acquired in an under-the-radar trade from Toronto this spring, Smith is hitting .287 with a .859 OPS as Baltimore’s everyday No. 3 hitter.
The three-run homer he socked two innings after robbing Engel marked his fifth in 22 games. Smith entered 2019 with just two home runs in 47 career Major League contests, all with the Blue Jays.
“I’m just having fun, playing the game like I’ve always played it,” Smith said. “Like a kid.”
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.