Smoltz nervous but ready for his first start

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John Smoltz returns tonight, and he’s a bit nervous about it:

“Hopefully I learn from some of those past experiences of what I call
two of the most anxious moments: first game as a closer and then my
first game back as a starter after five years, neither of which did I
do very well — and both of those years turned out to be great years,”
Smoltz said. “So I’m not going to get too caught up in whether or not
tomorrow is a success or a failure based on one start.”

I’m not exactly sure what Smotlz is referring to when he says he
didn’t do well in his first game as a closer. He went to the pen in
July of 2001, and in his first game back
he gave up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out a guy against the
Expos. If he’s referring to the beginning of his first full season as
The Closer for the Braves — 2002 — he’s wrong too. In his first appearance that season he struck out two of the three men he faced and again didn’t allow a runner. It wasn’t until his second appearance — against the Mets — where he got shelled.

He was right, though, about his first game back as a starter. He was destroyed on Opening Day 2005 against the Marlins: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.