Smoltz's first outing in more than a year, a 9-3 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday in which he gave up four runs in the first inning, is now in the rearview mirror.
"A lot of hard work went into this," Smoltz said after that outing. "Although I'd like that mulligan in the first inning, that's just the way it happens. Now everything will be normal for me."
In that game, the 42-year-old Smoltz wore the uniform of a team other than the Braves -- for whom he had played since 1988 -- for the first time, having signed with Boston as a free agent in the offseason.
And Smoltz competed in a big league game for the first time since June 2, 2008, his last game before being shut down and undergoing right shoulder surgery a week later.
Small wonder that even for a seasoned veteran like Smoltz, the rust and adrenaline combined to cause a few bumps along the way.
Most of those bumps came in a 35-pitch first inning, during which Smoltz gave up four of the five runs he allowed in his five innings. After that first frame, he settled down and allowed one run in the next four innings, walking one and striking out five on the night.
In his career with Atlanta, Smoltz was 210-147 with a 3.26 ERA and 3,011 strikeouts, as well as 152 saves, having starred as both a starter and reliever. He helped lead the club to the playoffs 13 times and his 15 postseason wins tops the list in that category, as do his 94 strikeouts.
Yet Smoltz's track record hasn't been that good in the singular "comeback" games.
In April 2002, when he made his first appearance as the Braves' closer, a position he held for three seasons, he gave up eight runs on six hits in two-thirds of an inning. And three years later, in April '05 when he returned to the rotation, he was tagged for six earned runs on six hits in just 1 2/3 innings.
Obviously, at 42, Smoltz has no illusions about matching those numbers during his Red Sox career, but being out on the mound with a "B" on his cap instead of an "A" when the postseason begins is his goal.
And Tuesday night against Baltimore, Smoltz will be able to take the next step to meet that goal.
With a little less hype and media attention, with fewer nerves, with a little less rust to shake off, Red Sox fans can hope they may see the "real John Smoltz" -- the one they saw, in fact, during the final four innings of his first start.
BOS: RHP John Smoltz (0-1, 9.00 ERA)
Smoltz has never started a game at Camden Yards, but he did earn saves in both of his career appearances there. Lifetime against the Orioles, he is 1-1 with a 4.37 ERA in six games.
Hill has been highly erratic this season and hasn't completed five innings in four of his past six starts, but the Orioles appear committed to this reclamation project. Hill struck out the side on 10 pitches in the first inning of his previous start, but then he allowed a pair of two-run home runs in the next two innings. For Hill to be successful, he has to mix his pitches and locate within the strike zone. Tidbits
Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who has been on the disabled list since April 12 with a left wrist injury, departed his rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday after two at-bats due to a sore left quad. ... Designated hitter David Ortiz went 1-for-4 on Monday and remains three homers shy of 300. ... Outfielder Jonathan Van Every, who was up with Boston earlier this season, is expected to miss the rest of the Triple-A season following left knee surgery.
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Wednesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 9-3, 3.48) at Orioles (Brad Bergesen, 5-2, 3.76), 1:35 p.m. ET
Friday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 10-3, 4.18) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 8-3, 2.54), 7:10 p.m. ET
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less