He wasn't being rude. The sidearm-throwing right-hander really didn't want to know that he'd gone 222/3 innings over 23 appearances from June 24 to Aug. 9 without allowing a run.
"Every day is a new day," Smith said. "All that matters is winning. Whatever happened yesterday, if we won and everyone threw up zeros, let's do it again. From here on out, that's all it's about. Getting wins."
Smith's streak ended Sunday when he gave up a three-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth inning of a 3-1 loss to Boston. Smith also gave up a run in the eighth inning Wednesday night, but it didn't cost the Angels, who held on for a 4-3 win over Philadelphia.
If Smith, who is 4-1 with a 2.21 earned-run average in 57 games, can't snap out of his two-game funk, the line of questioning will change, from what's going right to what's suddenly gone wrong. And that can be uncomfortable for a reliever too.
"When you're struggling, you have so many people coming at you, it becomes a frustrating thing that you don't want to talk about," fellow reliever
"Then, when you're going good, you don't want to jinx it. So, yeah, it becomes, 'Just don't talk to me for six months and I'll see you in the off-season.' It's part of the deal."
Jepsen had a similar streak, going 22 innings over 23 games from June 24 to Aug. 10 without giving up an earned run. That ended on Monday, an off day, when a
"I've never given up a run six days after the fact — that was a first," Jepsen said jokingly. "On the off day, too. We were on the beach, [
That didn't ruin Jepsen's day, or season. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 58 games, and his resurgence, along with the winter signing of Smith and midseason trades for
Jepsen is throwing his 97-mph fastball consistently for strikes, and his decision to scrap the cut fastball he threw for several seasons in favor of a changeup has paid huge dividends.
"Sometimes the cutter got me into more trouble because it was so hard, it wasn't really an off-speed pitch," Jepsen said. "I threw it at 90, 93 mph, and there wasn't enough separation with the fastball.
"Plus, with the cutter, everything was going into a left-handed hitter and away from a right-handed hitter. My curve and changeup are both 84, 86 mph, but they go in different directions."
The cutter also required Jepsen to manipulate the ball, and by eliminating that, he feels his four-seam fastball has more life. He's getting his curve over — with it, he struck out
"If I can't throw a curve for strikes that day, the changeup gives me an off-speed option to throw in the zone so they can't just sit fastball," Jepsen said. "It allows me to pitch, not just go out there and throw."
Relievers combined for a 4.36 ERA and a .243 opponents' average and converted 16 of 26 save opportunities in the first 66 games. In 50 games since, entering Friday night's game at Texas, the bullpen has combined for a 2.30 ERA, .207 opponents' average and converted 17 of 20 save opportunities.
And an already deep and diverse bullpen should receive another boost Saturday when rookie right-hander Mike Morin, who is 3-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 41 games, comes off the disabled list.
"The way the season started, it felt like, 'Here we go again,'" Jepsen said. "There was constant movement, guys coming up from the minor leagues, going down, roles changing. But right now, it's solid. The way we feel now, if the starter gives us the lead after five innings, we're good."
Player information coach Rick Eckstein has left the Angels to become an assistant baseball coach at the University of Kentucky.
Eckstein, the older brother of former Angels shortstop
Eckstein, 41, joined the Angels last winter after spending 41/2 seasons as the
Eckstein, who will serve as Kentucky's hitting coach, played for Kentucky head coach Gary Henderson at the University of Florida in the 1990s.