Rookie Smith giving Mariners important innings

Rookie Smith giving Mariners important innings

ANAHEIM -- Somewhat lost in the Mariners' offensive breakthrough in Tuesday's 13-2 victory over the Angels was yet another stellar outing by Seattle's bullpen, including the first career victory for newcomer Carson Smith.

After starter Roenis Elias was pulled with no outs in the fourth inning due to a strained left elbow, five Seattle relievers came on to throw six scoreless innings while allowing just one hit with one walk. The effort lowered Seattle's bullpen ERA to 2.36, the lowest in the Majors this season.

Smith pitched the fifth and sixth innings and thus received his first win, thanks to Seattle's 10-run outburst while he was in the game to overcome a 2-0 deficit. The hard-throwing 24-year-old has become a surprising late-season weapon for manager Lloyd McClendon, as he's yet to allow a run with just two hits allowed in 6 2/3 innings over five appearances.

"That was a crazy one," Smith acknowledged. "Elias had some arm problems in that inning and I'd just gotten up in the bullpen. They asked me to get going and all the sudden the trainer is coming out. It kind of caught me by surprise at that moment, but I knew I just had to go in there and throw strikes and do my job."

That's the approach the 6-foot-6 Texan has taken since his Sept. 1 callup and McClendon has thrown him into increasingly critical situations with confidence. And that's just fine with Smith.

"I wouldn't say I'm surprised," he said of his initial success. "I know what I'm capable of. I'm confident in my ability and I'm just going out there and doing what I've done all year."

But the obvious difference is he's doing that now in a playoff race at the Major League level instead of in Triple-A games for Tacoma, where he saved 10 games and posted a 2.93 ERA in 39 appearances this year. And Tuesday night, he found himself celebrating his first career win.

"It's good to get that first one," he said. "As a reliever, that's not a stat I really look forward to. But of course it's a great feeling right now. … It's all been great. This is the best bullpen in baseball, not only on the field, but off the field. They're great guys. It's been fun out there."

McClendon said the even-keeled youngster has been impressive in tough situations.

"I'm sure he's probably a little nervous when he gets out there, but he doesn't show it," McClendon said. "And the results have been stellar to this point. He was [the Mariners Minor League Reliever] of the Year last year for a reason. He's pretty good."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.