I grew up a Braves fan, and I've always liked John Smoltz. He was a great starter and later became a great reliever. His time in Altlanta marked a great run for the Braves. Unfortunately, all great things eventually come to an end.
When the Braves decided to not resign John Smoltz this year and he unded up with the dreaded Red Sox I was a little upset. It's always hard to watch an icon leave his team. The Braves decision to let Smoltz go seemed like a good one when he didn't have such a strong season in Boston.
Boston let Smoltzie go last week. I figured that he had a bit left in the tank and some team would sign him cheaply and give him a few innings in relief. I was mildly surprised when the St. Louis Cardinals signed him for use as a starter. I think it's a good signing though. The Cards seem to be a lock for the playoffs. They can use him as a fifth starter for the remainder of the regular season. If he doesn't perform well the team is still likely to take their division as the Cubs have been falling apart. When the post season comes along they won't be using a fifth starter so Smoltz can make appearences out of the pen. Good for everyone.
On Sunday John Smoltz made his first appearence as a Cardinal. He only threw 75 pitches before being erlieved after the fifth inning. I can only use one word to describe how he looked. That word is "masterful."
In five innings he allowed three hits, no walks and no runs, striking out nine. Even more impressive than the nine strikeouts in five innings was the fact that he struck out seven consecutive batters, setting a new St. Louis Cardinals record, and coming within three batters of the Major League Baseball record.
His 94 MPH fastball, strong splitter and wicked slider looked like it did a decade ago. I'm not ready to say John Smoltz has been reborn at in St. Louis at the age of 42, but a few more appearences like yesterdays will leave the Braves and Red Sox scratching their heads.