WASHINGTON — Here is John Smoltz after his five-inning outing, in which he threw 92 pitches and surrendered five runs, four of which came in the first inning:
(Rough start, good finish) “I can’t be disappointed. I lost a little rhythm there in the first inning, which has happened three different times when I’ve been gone for a year and tried to slow down as much as I can. But I’ve got to give them credit. They battled me on seven, eight, and nine-pitch at bats. Made one bad pitch each at bat to give up a hit.
“But very encouraged by how good I can be, and how good I felt, and the stamina and everything going forward. I was really disappointed on the bloop hit. Two runs is two runs. Going to give up two runs. Felt like that was pretty much the unfortunate hit that put their young pitcher in a nice position to have a four-run lead against our lineup. All in all, most times if the line score is the way it is I’m going to be very disappointed, but I really can’t be at this point.
“A lot of hard work. Although I’d like that mulligan in the first inning, that’s the way it happens. Now everything will be normal for me.”
(On his velocity) “Yeah, there’s still some room for that to improve. I got a little anxious and jerked some pitches that is normal and that’s the thing, when you go through this process, everyone wants to come out and throw great, but I threw so many quality iptches I was pleased with that I know within a matter of a few starts I’ll be honed in to where I want to be, and hopefully not have, when I hit Nick Johnson, kind of sped things up a little bit. All in a all, lot of hits product of poor placement and good placement by them. Before you know it, it’s 4-0 and I’m saying here we go again. Fortunately, could have gone another inning. Felt that strong.”
(How he felt at the end) “Yeah, said I was good, but the situation in my first start and 90-something pitches, that’s what I was most disappointed about. I pitched myself out of a potential good game in that first inning with 35 pitches. I never felt couldn’t make a pitch, repeat a pitch, make an adjustment on a pitch.
“Once I got past the first inning, felt normal again. All encouraging signs for the future.”
(Going through all of his pitches) “I check them all off, except for the first inning, I started to feel for some pitches instead of throwing, and it cost me a couple of times. The best way to describe it is you get in that moment, you knmow it counts, trying to mak ehte best pitch you can. With some of those hitters, Josh Bard especially, he just battled me until I hung one. I made seven really, really good pitches in the at-bat and the one bad one he hit.
“Every time I got on the mound felt I can make those pitches. What’s happened fo rme was I made a lot of really, really good pitches early in the count with no conact, and with two strikes, have to make those pitches. That’s where I said my famiilarity will come back really quick in two to three starts.”
“Unfortunately it started out this way a few times in my career. Don’t get too worried about it. I was very encouraged by the stuff that I had tonight.”
(How this comeback was different than others) “It felt different because I had 71 texts today. It felt different because so many people were and have been rooting for me that’s what frustrates you. That’s what sturggled with most in first start. Wanted to do well for those people who have been so supportive.
“My buddy joked he flew up from Miami for one that last 1 2/3 innings. At least I got five innings today.”
“So much for going on eight days. I’m glad it’s over so I can resume the five-day rotation and do what every pitcher does, make improvements from game to game.”
“That’s what I feared most coming into this game, wanted to do so well for everybody involved, find self going, ‘How did I get here? How did four runs just happen?’ No matter if I’m 42 or 22, I feel like I can accomplish whatever I want this year. That’s why I came back, rehab went the way it did, now it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it like I did before.”