Angels reliever Joe Smith avoids letdown in win over Tigers

Angels reliever Joe Smith avoids letdown in win over Tigers
Angels reliever Joe Smith is congratulated by teammate Ryan Jackson after getting out of a jam against the Tigers in the eighth inning Thursday afternoon in Detroit. (Leon Halip / Getty Images)

Matt Shoemaker spent much of Thursday afternoon crafting a masterpiece against the Tigers, giving up one hit over 7 1/3 innings before handing the ball and a 1-0 lead to setup man Joe Smith.

One pitch in, Smith, the usually reliable, sidearm-throwing right-hander, was in danger of throwing it all away. J.D. Martinez crushed a triple to left-center field, putting the tying run at third with one out.


"I was trying to throw a fastball down and away for a strike, and it caught more of the plate than I wanted," Smith said. "I didn't expect him to come unglued and put a good swing on it. He drove that ball out there. A bunch of thoughts go through your mind at that point."

Such as?

"I'm like, 'Really? Shoe just came back up, he was absolutely dealing, and now you're going to give it up in two swings of the bat?' I had to get that out of my system and get a punch-out."

Smith, with the infield in, did just that, striking out Nick Castellanos with a nasty 2-and-2 slider. Alex Avila followed with a grounder to the second-base hole, where Ryan Jackson, who had just replaced starter Grant Green, ranged to his right to field the ball and threw to first to end the inning.

The Angels tacked on an insurance run in the ninth when Albert Pujols walked, C.J. Cron and Erick Aybar singled and Shane Victorino hit a sacrifice fly, and Huston Street struck out two of three in the ninth for his 31st save, preserving a 2-0 Angels win.

"I was pumped," Smith said. "It would have stunk to give that one up. Now, every out, every hit counts. This is the time we need to start rolling. We won two of three here. I don't care what their record is, when you play them, they're tough."

Detroit free pass

Tigers starter Randy Wolf, a 39-year-old left-hander who pitched briefly for the Angels' triple-A team last summer, gave up one run and five hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking two, but those two walks — to Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout with two outs in the sixth — were costly.

Pujols followed with a line-drive single to left fielder Tyler Collins, who appeared to have a good shot of throwing out Calhoun. But his throw bounced past Avila, the Tigers catcher, and Calhoun slid in with the first run.

Short hops

David Freese, who started the first four games of his rehabilitation stint for triple-A Salt Lake at designated hitter, took Thursday off and is scheduled to play third base Friday and Saturday. Barring setback, Freese, out since July 23 because of a broken right index finger, will be activated for Monday night's game in Oakland.