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Smith confident he'll pitch his way out of slump

Smith confident he'll pitch his way out of slump

Smith confident he'll pitch his way out of slump

CLEVELAND -- Joe Smith has gone through slumps in the past. Just to be sure, the Indians' setup man went back and checked his track record on Friday night, reminding himself that he has overcome similar rough patches in his career.

"It seems like there's always one month in the year where I'm terrible," Smith said on Saturday. "This month, it's been tough. It's been a grind. I've just got to throw strikes, get ahead and I know good things will happen. I've been in the league long enough. I know I can get outs.

"I've been through slumps before. It's not anything I'm not familiar with. I'll come back and start rolling."

During Friday's 11-8, 11-inning victory over the Rangers, Smith surrendered two runs in the eighth inning to allow Texas to pull the game into an 8-8 tie. That performance upped the right-handed sidearmer's ERA to 7.59 over his past 13 appearances. In that span, Smith has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 14 hits in 10 2/3 innings, with two strikeouts and seven walks.

In Smith's previous 30 games, he posted a 1.65 ERA with 28 strikeouts and eight walks over 27 1/3 innings.

Other than an uncharacteristic amount of walks, Indians manager Terry Francona has not seen anything within Smith's recent outings to warrant much concern.

"He's walked a few more people lately than normal," Francona said. "He's fine. He comes out every night and has the same stuff every night. ... He's about as dependable a guy as [you want]. I love when he pitches, because normally he doesn't walk people, you can't run on him and he keeps the ball down. So, you've got to bunch hits together to beat him, and that's hard to do."

Smith, who has gone 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 43 games this season, cited pitch selection as one recent problem.

"I feel good," said Smith, who has not seen anything glaring with his mechanics. "Some of them are just stupid pitches. There's been some times where I'm letting guys get on base early in the inning from getting behind in the count.

"And it seems like, when they get on base, I've been getting ahead in the count, but then getting beat on 1-2, 0-2 counts. I just haven't been able to put anybody away."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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