Smith is just 22, and his 23-year-old teammate, Mike Moustakas, also accomplished a career first with four RBIs -- all of them coming in the first two innings. He whacked a two-run homer and a two-run single, the latter of which came after he missed a second homer by inches.
Moustakas shrugged off his big game.
"That doesn't make it anything," Moustakas said. "It was a big night for Will -- it was his first Major League 'W.' That's what today's about -- it's awesome for him."
That it was -- after a very inauspicious start in which the first two Indians batters walked and the next two singled. Disaster loomed as the Indians matched Moustakas' first-inning homer. Two more runs and manager Ned Yost was prepared to pull Smith immediately.
"It was real shaky in the first to the point where we got [Vin] Mazzaro up after scoring two, but then he just kind of got after it," Yost said. "He calmed down a little bit, the lead helped him regain his composure, he got a little [ticked] and he said, 'Enough of this, I'm going to start going right after people,' and he did a darn good job from that point on."
It helped that Smith was quickly given a 7-2 lead to ease his concerns.
Moustakas, just 3-for-26 previously on the trip, awakened from the swoon with a two-run homer in the first inning. It was his eighth this season and came off Indians starter Justin Masterson, against whom he was 1-for-9 previously.
So things were happening for Moose, and darned if he didn't come within inches of another homer in the midst of the Royals' five-run second inning. With two runners on, he curled a blast past the right-field pole so closely that Yost, upon a foul ruling, urged the umpires to view an instant replay.
"It's a good thing we've got that review nowadays," Moustakas said. "I couldn't tell, I don't think anybody could tell. I was still questionable whether it was fair or foul."
The umpires took a look and concluded that first-base ump Dan Bellino was correct -- it was a foul ball.
No matter. Moustakas promptly lined a single off Masterson to score two runs for a five-run lead. That doubled his RBI take.
Eric Hosmer had launched the bat-around inning with a single and later scored with an artful dodger slide. On Humberto Quintero's tap to first base, Jose Lopez threw home but Hosmer reached out to slip his hand over the plate and under catcher Luke Carlin's tag. Later in the inning, Alex Gordon and Johnny Giavotella contributed run-scoring singles.
"Some craziness was going on in the second inning," Masterson said. "A couple hits, a couple infield, a couple this, that and the other."
Enjoying the wacky scene, Smith settled down and breezed through the next five innings without another run scoring.
"I was trying to be too fine in the first inning, I was trying to be too perfect instead of trusting my stuff and getting people out," Smith explained. "I got mad. Nobody likes doing that."
Smith had been cuffed around at New York in his big league debut, and he didn't need more of that. He was counseled after the first inning by catcher Quintero and pitching coach Dave Eiland.
"I started getting comfortable out there, I wasn't scared or nervous," Smith said.
In total, Smith gave up two runs on four hits and two walks, had five strikeouts and emerged with a win when relievers Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow each contributed a scoreless inning.
In an unusual play in the sixth, the Royals added an eighth run when Jarrod Dyson singled, stole second and, while breaking toward third, pulled third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall toward the bag enough to allow Quintero's bouncer to go through for an RBI single.
"Dice got a green light," Yost said. "I generally don't like 'em running later in the count because it distracts the hitter a little bit. I said, 'OK, Dice, what are you doing?' and then Q pulled the ball, which surprised me because he'd been going the other way a lot. It worked out perfectly."
Everything seemed to work out perfectly for the Royals. Not so for the Indians, who slipped out of first place in the American League Central for the first time in 35 days, now a half-game behind the Chicago White Sox.
Because of that, most of the 14,253 fans probably found the proceedings forgettable. But it was a memorable night for Smith.
"It was awesome, this one's up there with the debut. Getting the first win in the big leagues was just an awesome feeling," he said.