Will Smith loses big league debut to Yankees
By HOWIE RUMBERG
NEW YORK (AP) Will Smith's mom shook her head in disbelief when Curtis Granderson homered, clasped her hands behind her head after Alex Rodriguez hit his second homer off her son and couldn't bear to watch when Nick Swisher hit a popup.
Kay Smith had about as rough a time sitting in the stands in Yankee Stadium for her son's big league debut as the 22-year-old lefty did on the mound.
Smith was given a rude welcome to the big leagues by New York's lineup of All-Stars, not able to make it out of the fourth inning as the Kansas City Royals lost to the Yankees 8-3 Wednesday night.
"She was nervous. She's been like that since I was in high school," Smith said. "She and my dad ... my dad used to pace around the stadium. They always get nervous and always will be."
Smith's sister and brother-in-law also made the trip to the Bronx from Georgia to see his first start, and he began with an out for the scrapbook: He got Derek Jeter to hit a grounder to shortstop. But it was rocky the rest of the first for the lefty who was 2 months shy of 6 when Andy Pettitte made his debut in 1995.
"I was nervous a little bit, facing a future Hall of Famer to start your career, in Derek Jeter," Smith said. "That was cool at the same time, but you still got to go out there and make your pitches and get people out."
Granderson homered to deep right on a 1-2 pitch. TV showed Smith's mom in the stands shaking her head: welcome to the big leagues, son. After a walk to Mark Teixeira, A-Rod crushed a ball into the left field stands for a 3-0 lead.
By the time Swisher hit a pop up with two outs, Smith's mom had covered her face with her hands. It was an out, mom.
When Rodriguez homered in the third to center field, mom sat stunned with her hands behind her head.
"I don't know if he was amped," manager Ned Yost said. "He wasn't making quality pitches early."
Yost said Smith (0-1) will likely start against Cleveland, the stop after a three-game trip to Baltimore.
Rodriguez snapped a 52 at-bat homerless drought and drove in three runs for New York. Granderson also connected off Smith and the Yankees scored three times in the fifth with help from some inept relief pitching.
New York scored as many as three runs in the first inning for the first time in 31 games since April 19 and finished a 3-3 homestand. The Yankees start a 10-game trip at Oakland on Friday following their first consecutive wins since three in a row from May 10-12.
Pettitte (2-1) followed eight innings of four-hit ball against Cincinnati with seven-plus crafty innings in his third start since coming out of retirement, leaving him with a 2.53 ERA. He gave Smith a lesson in mixing pitches and working out of difficult situations.
"I feel like I'm moving the ball around the zone and that makes it difficult to hit," Pettitte said.
In the third inning, Teixeira started a double play with a diving stop. Pettitte got out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth with a strikeout - one of his eight Ks - giving a slight fist pump walking off the mound.
"I faced him before he retired and now after he came back, and I actually see things different that he's doing," Butler said. "He's throwing more off-speed stuff, more curveballs and changeups. Before it was 90 to 94 with hard cut in on you.
"You knew he was throwing it and he knew you knew he was throwing it, and it was going to beat you. But he's crafted his game and his last two starts have been great."
Rodriguez said following Tuesday's game that he was "about to go off" - and he did. Rodriguez had just one RBI since he last homered and drove in three runs on May 6 at Kansas City, 15 games ago. It was Rodriguez's 60th multihomer game.
"I said it with conviction not because it was going to sound good here in my locker but because I felt it," Rodriguez said. "It's good to back that up."
Smith was lifted after giving up a one-out single in the fourth. He allowed five runs and six hits in 3 1-3 innings. Luis Mendoza, the pitcher originally slated to start Wednesday night, relieved.
Rodriguez came up in the fifth with the bases loaded and grounded into a fielder's choice. Jeter, who bunted for a hit, was forced out at home.
The Yankees came in 8 for 41 (.195) with the bases loaded but they didn't need a hit in that situation in the fifth to score their runs. The Yankees walked three times and were twice hit by pitches in the inning. Robinson Cano had an RBI fielder's choice - a nice diving stop by shortstop Alcides Escobar - and Andruw Jones and Teixeira, back in the 3-hole after two games batting seventh, walked to force in runs.
Eric Hosmer went 3 for 4 with an RBI to raise his average to .191.
"Finally some stuff went my way a little bit, but it was just a tough game," Hosmer said. "Andy came out and pitched well, proved why he's the pitcher he is. He was working both sides of the plate well and just threw a great game."
NOTES: The Royals dropped to 4-3 in the deciding game of series this season. ... Smith was 1-3, 4.01 at Omaha this season. ... Jeter had three hits to tie Paul Waner for 15th with 3,152.
Updated May 23, 2012