04/14/10 2:10 AM ET
Pair of Smiths power Rockies in opener
Starter cruises after outfielder's homer powers six-run third
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Smith couldn't have picked a better way to earn his first win in a Rockies uniform, and his first in the Majors since Sept. 6, 2008. He struck out eight batters in seven innings and drove in the first two runs of his career in the Rockies' 11-3 victory over the Mets at Coors Field before 25,110.
Smith (1-1), who missed last season with shoulder and back issues after arriving in the trade with the Athletics that sent star outfielder Matt Holliday to Oakland, would rather analyze than commemorate. He was more focused on the process than the occasion.
Before any game, a pitcher comes up with a plan. Being able to adhere to it without adjusting it or even scrapping it is usually a fantasy. But when Smith went to bed after the game, he could actually relive the Rockies' third victory in four games in his dreams.
"The way it unfolded was what we were expecting," Smith said. "You have a plan, but you're also facing a big league hitter who is going to make adjustments. And I'm not saying they didn't tonight. But that's the way it played out tonight. We were able to get that [plan] all the way through the game."
Seth Smith hit a two-run homer and doubled in a run, while Brad Hawpe and Clint Barmes drove in two runs apiece as the Rockies posted their highest run total of the season. The only downer was that Hawpe left the game with left quadriceps tightness after his two-run, first-inning double.
But it was Greg Smith's night.
Using a cutter and sinker to attack both sides of the plate, which made his changeup difficult to hit, Smith held the Mets scoreless until David Wright's second home run of the season in the sixth inning.
Wright had singled and Jason Bay walked to open the fourth. But the potential rally died after the pitcher forced Jeff Francoeur into a double-play grounder and struck out Fernando Tatis.
Smith's first start of the season, last Wednesday at Milwaukee, didn't go as planned. He gave up five runs in five innings, with three coming on a Casey McGehee first-inning homer and another on a Rickie Weeks solo shot. But manager Jim Tracy said the lefty had come close to not having a difference between the two starts.
"Greg Smith is a couple of pitches away from us raving about two tremendous starts that he's had up to this point," Tracy said. "Tonight, he was obviously much better than he was in Milwaukee."
The Rockies' starter didn't plan on his team scoring eight runs in the first three innings against Mets starter John Maine (0-2), who will be seeing his 13.50 ERA in his nightmares. Smith went 7-16 for the Athletics in 2008, but he had one run or fewer of support in a whopping 18 of his 32 starts.
Colorado, however, is expected to post big run totals. The Rockies have been inconsistent offensively, however. Tuesday marked the first time they've pounded an opponent in the early innings. They scored seven runs Friday against the Padres, but had just three runs until the eighth.
"I don't think it's fair to expect nine, 10, 11 runs every night," Ian Stewart said. "But we seem to have the kind of offense that can get on you in a hurry in a game. We also have the kind of offense where if we need a big hit or a big home run late in the game, we can do that as well."
The lefty-throwing Smith said as long as he attacks the strike zone, he doesn't need that many runs.
"All the games aren't going to be 8-2, 11-3," he said. "It would be nice."
As has been the case all season, the Rockies felt they could have scored more runs. Seth Smith, for example, left Coors Field still searching.
In the second inning, the Rockies had two on with no outs when Greg Smith bunted the runners to second and third. But Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler each popped out.
After a discussion about mechanics with veteran Jason Giambi, the left fielder popped a Maine pitch for a home run to center in his next at-bat, added a double on a liner to left later, and yet still didn't feel he had reached his stride.
"I'm going to screw up," he said. "I'm not going to get the job done every time. But as the season goes along, I'm going to succeed more times in that situation than I'm going to fail."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.