Smith confident numbers will turn around

Smith confident numbers will turn around

ANAHEIM -- Opposing left-handed hitters entered Wednesday batting .370 against Angels setup man Joe Smith this season, an unseemly clip for a sidearm right-hander who limited them to a .204 batting average over the previous four years.

Beware of small sample sizes.

"Before last night, if you take away two hits against lefties, they're batting .208," Smith said Wednesday afternoon. "Two hits."

Not anymore, though. Lefties are now 10-for-27 against Smith, who gave up a walk-off single against Joe Panik of the Giants on Friday and helped turn a one-run lead into a two-run deficit against the Mariners in Tuesday's eighth inning. Taking away two hits would now put opposing lefties' batting average at .297.

But point taken.

"My numbers against lefties over the past four seasons are what they are," Smith said. "I'll get back there."

Prior to Wednesday's 4-3 walk-off win -- which saw him retire two of three left-handed hitters in a scoreless eighth inning -- Smith had allowed eight of his last 11 batters to reach base, a rare, short slump that ballooned his ERA from 0.90 to 4.09. But opposing hitters -- righties and lefties -- were batting an unsustainable .429 on balls in play against him. From 2011-14, they didn't bat any higher than .282 on balls in play.

Smith said he's just having a hard time getting his pitches inside on opposing left-handed hitters. The Angels have two effective lefties in Cesar Ramos and Jose Alvarez in their bullpen, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn't plan to match up in the eighth inning.

Smith has no interest in sharing responsibilities, either.

"My job is the eighth inning," Smith said. "That's my job. That's why they paid me to come here. I thought I earned it last year. I thought I proved I could do it, no matter if it's left or right. It's very nice having two lefties in our bullpen. They can obviously get lefties; that's why they're here. But at the same time, they brought me here to lock down the eighth inning. I am not getting the job done. I haven't gotten it done the last couple times out. It sucks. But I will. I will start getting lefties out again. It's just not happening right now."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.