Smoltz is on target

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Video of John Smoltz pitching at the Augusta GreenJackets baseball game.

A record crowd of 5,828 arrived at Lake Olmstead Stadium Thursday night to see Boston Red Sox pitcher and former Atlanta Brave John Smoltz make a rehab appearance in his first outing almost a year after shoulder surgery.

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Greenville Drive pitcher John Smoltz throws against the GreenJackets.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Greenville Drive pitcher John Smoltz throws against the GreenJackets.

The crowd gave Smoltz a standing ovation as he walked off the mound after three strong innings, but the Augusta GreenJackets still managed to extend their season-high winning streak to five games with an 8-3 victory over the Greenville Drive.

Smoltz allowed only one hit in his scheduled three innings of work. The 42-year-old pitcher needed only 29 pitches to retire nine of the 10 batters he faced. He walked none and struck out two.

"I accomplished everything I really wanted to accomplish and for me that's a tough task because when I know I've only got three innings I want to do too much and I didn't tonight," Smoltz said. "I really stayed patient with the same philosophy I've had the last three weeks."

Smoltz acknowledged the record crowd and standing ovation with a wave of his cap as he made his final walk to the visitors' dugout. The 20-year Atlanta Brave veteran signed with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason, but many in the stands still wore his Braves jersey.

"I didn't know what to expect, to be honest. I know what this town represents and how in the years I've come back here after we almost won the World Series how crazy they went when we signed autographs," he said.

"It was mixed emotions for me. I was really honored by the crowd. I know the process I'm about to go through is only going to get more hectic."

Smoltz, who got a no decision when he left after three innings with no score in the game, signed autographs before he left. The standing-room-only crowd applauded his efforts after every inning, but after Smoltz's night was over, the GreenJackets won the crowd back with a six-run sixth inning and plenty of clutch hitting in the victory.

"It was one of the most successful nights in baseball history in the city of Augusta," GreenJackets general manager Nick Brown said. "People got to see John Smoltz throw some innings and a GreenJackets win. Hopefully we converted some casual fans into GreenJackets fans tonight."

GreenJackets center fielder Juan Perez got the only hit off Smoltz with a ground ball that snuck under the glove of shortstop Oscar Tejeda to lead off the second inning. After Smoltz left, the GreenJackets used three Greenville errors to score six unearned runs.

Two errors and a single in the sixth loaded the bases for GreenJackets left fielder Wendell Fairley. The 2007 first-round draft pick drilled a two-out, three-RBI double to left field to blow the game open. Fairley later saved at least one run in the top of the eighth with a diving catch in the outfield that turned into a double play to end the inning.

"He was the player of the game for me tonight." GreenJackets manager Dave Machemer said. "He's playing better, and been working hard. The whole team has."

GreenJackets starter Paul Oseguera, overshadowed by Smoltz, took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He gave up two earned runs and one hit over five innings but left the game trailing 2-0. Trey Webb (1-0) got the win in relief.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

BY THE NUMBERS

Here is a breakdown of John Smoltz's rehab start with the Greenville Drive against the Augusta GreenJackets on Thursday night:

INNINGS: Three

TOTAL PITCHES: 29 (23 strikes, 6 balls)

BATTERS FACED: 10

HITS: One (Juan Perez singled to lead off the second inning)

GROUNDOUTS: Four

FLYOUTS: Three

STRIKEOUTS: Two

WILD PITCH: One

RUNS ALLOWED: Zero

Comments (17) Add comment
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Fleeced Fan
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Fleeced Fan 05/22/09 - 05:22 am
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With John Smoltz in town,

With John Smoltz in town, Augusta saw the emergence of corporate baseball. The normal $1 beer night became $5 beer (You could buy $1 beers in one corner of the Stadium). Nick Brown reported that this was due to the large number of families expected. If Mr. Brown is concerned about family atmosphere beer should not have been sold. The Front Office expectation of families is a source to skim money from by restricting advertised specials. Get ready Augusta, this is Modern Minor League Baseball - a new stadium will bring this demon further out into the light.

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 05/22/09 - 06:41 am
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LOL and there were not that

LOL and there were not that many fans (from looking at the pics from this article). I bet the Mayor was there hmmmmm. A downtown stadium NOT.

Philo-Publis
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Philo-Publis 05/22/09 - 07:34 am
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Not that many fans???? There

Not that many fans???? There was only standing room left and not much of it! It took me 45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot after the game was over!

It goes to show you that if you put a good product out there, you will draw a crowd.

If anything, this only proves that a well managed downtown stadium would succeed. (In other words, don't let A.R.C. manage it)

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 05/22/09 - 07:54 am
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Oh from these pics looks like

Oh from these pics looks like the stadium wasn't as full and we know people only came to see John, these are not REGULAR fans who attended last night, it they were, surely you would see crowds like this on the norm.

Hatfield0278
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Hatfield0278 05/22/09 - 08:16 am
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The stadium was packed last

The stadium was packed last night. Full. Crowded. However you need to hear it.

easy breezy
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easy breezy 05/22/09 - 08:50 am
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Oh poor folks couldn't get

Oh poor folks couldn't get their $1.00 beers. So sad to hear.

sickemdawgs4509
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sickemdawgs4509 05/22/09 - 09:37 am
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Corporate Baseball? $5 dollar

Corporate Baseball? $5 dollar beers is hardly corporate baseball. The Last time in was in Atlanta for a game it was $11. I think Mr. Brown should be commended for making this decision, you could still get the $1 beers, and the kids and families who deserve to get a look at one of the most clutch pitchers to ever play the game deserve to do so withouth having to deal with the usual mixture of drunk college kids that make up a thirsty thursday. Well done Mr. Brown.

sickemdawgs4509
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sickemdawgs4509 05/22/09 - 09:44 am
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Now on to you

Now on to you JackFruitcake.... Seriously... MOVE TO MACON! I am so tired of your constant negative comments. You just need to move to macon where they don't have baseball and you can live out your days there... That stadium was ELECTRIC last night. I have been a season ticket holder ever since Ripkin took over, and if there was not an empty seat last night. Any seat that was empty was a result of someone who was getting some food! Get over the notion of keeping the Gj's in this small out of date ballpark. Its funny that you can make something as Fantastically Positive as John Smoltz pitching in augusta, negative by trying to say that crowd wasn't sold out. I bet you weren't even there. Seriously... Move to Macon

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 05/22/09 - 10:56 am
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LOL you being a season ticket

LOL you being a season ticket holder, has it ever been as crowded at a regular home game without a KNOWN name like Smoltz? NO and Macon is just as backwards as Augusta.

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 05/22/09 - 10:59 am
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They came from miles around

They came from miles around to only see SMOLTZ, and he was playing for ANOTHER TEAM. Now you know this isn't the NORMAL crowd at home games get real. I don't think that stadium is outdated, if anything it may need some renovations. Play Ball LOL...

jlhs32
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jlhs32 05/22/09 - 11:34 am
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I just adore John Smoltz!

I just adore John Smoltz! Good Luck!

SoxDownSouth
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SoxDownSouth 05/22/09 - 11:43 am
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Come on, who cares if they

Come on, who cares if they weren't real fans. The stadium was packed and it was amazing. I never saw it that full. And who cares if they weren't real fans anyway? Just to see that people are willing to go to the park is amazing. Being a die hard Sox fan since 82' I went to see Smoltz pitch and was impressed. Now if only the Jackets were and Double A team

SoxDownSouth
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SoxDownSouth 05/22/09 - 11:43 am
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Come on, who cares if they

Come on, who cares if they weren't real fans. The stadium was packed and it was amazing. I never saw it that full. And who cares if they weren't real fans anyway? Just to see that people are willing to go to the park is amazing. Being a die hard Sox fan since 82' I went to see Smoltz pitch and was impressed. Now if only the Jackets were and Double A team

thatch56
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thatch56 05/22/09 - 12:20 pm
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Few of you real fans of

Few of you real fans of baseball realize this was a chance to see a future hall of famer no matter who he plays for. For me I have been a John Smoltz fan ever since he put on a Braves uniform. I was heartbroken when he left. I wonder what he's doing today? Maybe swinging a different kind of club here in Augusta?

sickemdawgs4509
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sickemdawgs4509 05/22/09 - 12:31 pm
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Jack Fruit.... Your negative

Jack Fruit.... Your negative attitude towards the greenjackets is probably what keeps fans away. Yes that was an abnormally large crowd last night, but instead of poo pooing it why don't you just enjoy it. There are plenty of nights where the crowds are great! Minor league baseball doesn't live and die with "real baseball fans".. They have the casual fan come and enjoy the entertainment and atmosphere. The entertainment is already top notch, now all we need is the atmosphere of a downtown stadium!! down with jackfruitecake... GO GREENJACKETS and down town statdium!

Johnny Chimpo
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Johnny Chimpo 05/22/09 - 12:49 pm
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I was glad that Mr. Brown

I was glad that Mr. Brown switched the Thirsty Thursday beers to only down the first base line. If I had to wait in line to get my 5th inning soft pretzel while a bunch of college aged drunks waited for beer I was going to be very unhappy. Good job to the 'jackets last night.

Laguria
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Laguria 05/22/09 - 11:52 pm
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Sorry JackFruitWrapper, The

Sorry JackFruitWrapper, The game was a big success inspite of your negative attitude.

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