The veteran left-hander had hiccups as recently as late September. He blew a save opportunity Sept. 17 in San Francisco, giving up a homer to Donovan Solano. Later in the road trip, Fernando Tatis took him deep to win it for the Padres.
But the Braves remained confident in Smith. The hometown product delivered: He made 11 appearances in the postseason – which tied the franchise record before this season, when Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson surpassed that total – and didn’t allow a run.
Smith gave up five hits, striking out eight and walking three in 11 innings. He recorded six saves, but his most memorable appearance was his last non-save situation.
Years from now, when videos of the 2021 Braves’ final out are aired, it will be Smith on the mound, delivering the final pitch that Yuli Gurriel grounded to shortstop Dansby Swanson – another Atlanta-area native – and thrown to first baseman Freddie Freeman to complete an improbable season.
“I don’t think (that’s sunk in yet),” Smith said. “Once I saw the guy put the ball on the ground, I knew our infielders (would handle it), they’re studs. They worked with us all year, every day with Wash (third-base coach Ron Washington). So once it went to Dansby, I knew we had a pretty good chance of finishing this game off.”