The idea was for John Smoltz to bide his time and ready himself for the big games in September and October. The way he’s going, there might not be any of those. After what transpired last night in the Bronx, the Boston Red Sox are asking themselves if Smoltz has anything left.
He yielded nine hits and eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the hated Yankees. His record dropped to 2-5. His ERA rose to 8.33.
From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe: “In the end, the Braves were probably right in their decision to not re-sign Smoltz, though the execution was barbarian.”
From Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger: “Before Thursday night’s game, Red Sox manager Terry Francona insisted that Smoltz’s fastball still had life and his slider still had bite. Afterward, Francona couldn’t find many positives. He said he was unsure what to do with Smoltz’s spot in the rotation going forward.”
From Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald: “Now that plan is out the window. Instead of being the Red Sox’ October savior, Smoltz actually is standing in the way of the team reaching October. If the Sox keep giving Smoltz the ball every fifth game, they’re hurting – not helping – their postseason chances.”
From Daniel Barbarisi of the Providence Journal: “At what point is enough enough?”
From Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe: “Everybody loves Smoltz the way Everybody loves Raymond. He’s a Hall of Famer. But it looks like it’s over.”
You all know Smoltz isn’t my favorite guy — then again, I didn’t much like Raymond, either — but no pitcher of his eminence should go out like this. And the Red Sox can’t afford to experiment. They’re 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees and two games ahead of the Rangers in the wild-card chase. They fully expect to be in the postseason, which was why signing Smoltz seemed a great notion. But here were the key reported quotes after Thursday’s shelling:
“We have a lot of things to talk about tonight,” said Terry Francona, the Sox manager. “I don’t think five minutes after the game we need to come to a conclusion.”
“I’m a fighter,” Smoltz said, “but time may not be on my side if this continues.”
Meanwhile, backat the Braves: Smoltz’s old club lost another excruciating game on a walk-off homer last night. When first it happened, in Florida last week, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I think this one is bigger. Only 53 games left and they’re still 5 1/2 back in the wild card standings. It’s not looking good for them, either.
Sudden thought: Since Smoltz is proving he can no longer start games effectively, is there a chance Frank Wren might be interested in letting him close? (Probably not, I’m guessing.)
Oh, and one thing more: The legendary Casey Kotchman, as Mr. McAdam of the Herald notes, made his first start for the Sox last night — and hit a two-run homer off Joba Chamberlain. But there’s a chance I read that wrong. Casey Kotchman? A home run? Nah.
Extra! Extra! According to Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, Smoltz has been designated for assignment, which could well mean his career is at its end.