Despite loss, Smith looks sharp in MLB debut

July 17th, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- The "firsts" arrived quickly for as the left-hander made his Major League debut for the Yankees on Monday evening, striking out the first batter he faced and retiring six straight Twins before surrendering his first hit.

That was where the trouble started for Smith, who was saddled with his first loss in New York's 4-2 defeat in Minnesota. The 25-year-old gave up four hits and a walk, exhibiting some mixed emotions as he prepared to exit Target Field as an official member of the baseball register.

"I'm definitely glad that I'm here, and it's an experience like nothing else. I'm living my dream," Smith said. "That's what I talked about doing since I was knee-high, so that's awesome. But at the same time, I'm disappointed a little."

A 14th-round pick in the 2013 Draft out of Sam Houston State, Smith became the 12th Yankees player to make his Major League debut this season, taking over after spot-starter permitted two runs (one earned) in five innings. Smith froze with the seventh pitch he threw from a big league mound, an 82.1-mph slider, to get his first strikeout.

"I was definitely nervous a little bit," Smith said. "I just tried to keep my composure. It's a great experience. It's a feeling like nothing else."

Smith recorded the next three outs on ground balls, then struck out both and to end the seventh inning.

"I thought he pitched really well," catcher said. "He pitched well, he was throwing hard, he was mixing up pitches, and he made a pretty good team look pretty bad for two innings. It was impressive."

With the Yankees' bullpen fatigued following a long weekend in Boston, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he felt comfortable sending Smith back out for the eighth inning of a tied game.

Smith had been starting at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he was 8-0 with a 2.07 ERA in 16 games (15 starts), so fatigue would not be an issue.

Besides, Girardi said his choices were limited. If the Yankees took the lead, was on call to face , would be available to close and might have been able to face a batter. , and were unavailable.

"So I didn't really have a lot of options," Girardi said. "Because we didn't take the lead, I didn't make the change."

Joe Mauer opened the inning with a sinking liner to right field that couldn't snare on a diving attempt, and a Sano single moved the go-ahead run to third base. then rapped a pinch-hit RBI single and added a run-scoring double before Smith completed the inning.

"That's just kind of how things are going for us right now," Romine said. "They're getting knocks, and we're making outs. He made a good pitch, the guy hit it, and it kind of overshadowed what he did the whole game."