Despite a loss, two blown saves, Smith not worried about role

When Joe Smith says he isn’t worried, the Angels reliever is easy to believe. Despite two blown saves and a loss in his last five appearances, the set-up man rattled off a list of reasons on Wednesday why panic isn’t in his immediate future.

He took it so far as to spin his most disturbing outing, Tuesday night’s three runs on four hits in ⅓ of an inning, as a positive. Smith’s stint turned the Angels’ one-run lead in the eighth inning into a two-run deficit, but he argued rookie catcher Carlos Perez’s walk-off home run completed a comeback win over the Mariners that was more inspirational than a conventional victory would have been.

“The results obviously weren’t what I wanted,” Smith said of his performance, “But it was really cool seeing this team string together some great at-bats and come from behind. Sometimes that means more to a team than Garrett (Richards) goes seven, I go eight, (Huston Street) goes nine and we just win.”

Smith cited his early struggles in 2014, a fantastic season he finished with a 1.81 ERA and 15 saves. He blew three saves last May and at one point in April had a 5.19 ERA. After giving up the winning run to the Giants on Friday and three runs to Seattle Tuesday, Smith’s ERA has climbed to 4.09 this season.

Lefties are hitting .370 off Smith, who admits to consistent mistakes over the plate trying to pitch left-handed batters inside. Smith made clear he isn’t ready to relinquish any part of the eighth-inning role he was assigned when the Angels signed him to a three-year $15.75 million deal after the 2013 season.

“My job is the eighth inning,” Smith said. “That’s why they paid me to come here. I thought I earned it last year. I thought I proved I could do it, whether it was left or right.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia is in agreement, He isn’t ready to alter Smith’s role as closer Huston Street’s set-up man or steer Smith away from left-handed hitting.

“If it really became an issue where his confidence was wavering, you would look to take a little pressure off him, but we’re not there yet,” Scioscia said. “There’s no concern. These guys aren’t going to be perfect. Last year Joe was about as good as a pitcher can be and he’ll get back there.”

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