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John Smoltz Reaches Milestone by Third Inning

by November 30, 1999 @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Apr 22nd 2008 8:15PM by Will Brinson
The pitch that John Smoltz threw for his 3,000 career strikeout was, fittingly, a splitter and it more or less embarrassed Felipe Lopez. As noted earlier, it felt like a pretty sure thing that Smoltz was going to become the 16th member in the history of baseball to record the milestone over the course of a career and he did it by the third inning.

A “rocky start” to the game involved John getting three quick outs on ground balls, terrifying everyone at Turner Field and prompting a slew of “Maybe he turned into a sinkerballer!” jokes. But he struck out Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns looking in the second inning and the crowd started to build into a frenzy.

In the third, Smoltz got the opposing pitcher Lannan swinging and then Felipe Lopez worked the count to 2-2 before Smoltz sent him fumbling out in front of the plate looking for a splitter that had long since disappeared. The crowd erupted for about 30 seconds to a minute, and after getting handshakes and hugs from his infielders, Smoltz obliged the crowd with several tips of the cap. It’s worth noting that while he wasn’t shaken by any means, he was clearly affected by the history and tradition of hitting 3,000, all while doing it for the same team.

Three pitches later, Will Nieves grounded out to short and the crowd erupted again as Smoltz paused a few moments before heading into the dugout. And not to get all cheesy myself, but it’s hard to think of a guy who has a harder work ethic and better character that deserves the accolades more.

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