Smith hurls seven stellar innings

After long bus ride, A's prospect fans eight, allows lone single

By Josh Jackson / Special to | May 28, 2013 8:51 PM ET

A variety of skills contributed to Murphy Smith's success on Tuesday night: fielding, commanding his pitches ... sleeping on the bus.

"I'm a fairly good bus sleeper," he admitted.

That's lucky for him. Smith and the Double-A RockHounds arrived back in Midland, Texas, at 5:30 a.m. after an approximately 11-hour bus ride from Springfield, Mo.

Back on the mound 13 hours later, Smith allowed one hit and struck out eight over seven scoreless innings as the RockHounds clobbered the Tulsa Drillers, 10-1.

The Athletics prospect improved to 5-5 and lowered his ERA to 2.34, which ranks fourth in the Texas League. He was facing the Drillers for the second time in six days after they got to him for five runs on five hits, including two homers, in a 4 1/3-inning stint out of the bullpen.

"Honestly, my command, pretty much everything was off [in that game]," Smith said. "Everything I threw was up in the zone and I didn't have a great feel for my breaking ball. This time, obviously, everything was a lot better."

Smith worked around a walk in each of the first two innings and Rockies No. 19 prospect Cristhian Adames opened the third by lining a single to right field.

"It was a fastball that was just right down the middle and he took advantage of it," Smith said. "You make a mistake like that, you hope to get away with it. But I didn't this time."

With Rafael Ortega -- Colorado's 15th-ranked prospect -- at the plate, the 25-year-old right-hander threw a pitch that squirted away from catcher Beau Taylor.

"I was trying to throw a changeup down," Smith said. "I kind of spiked it a little too much and it got by Beau."

Smith got Ortega to fly out to center field, Chad Oberacker threw Adames out trying to advance to third and Delta Cleary was retired on a comebacker to end the inning.

After a leadoff walk in the fourth, Smith got two groundouts, then struck out the next six batters. And by the bottom of the fifth, Midland had a 7-0 lead.

"I had ample run support at the time," he said, referring to the strikeout streak. "I was pitching with lead and I got into a really good rhythm with Beau. With a lead, you can afford to make a few mistakes and that lets you pitch with a bit more confidence."

The final strikeout victim in the run was Cleary, who swung at a curveball down that got away from Taylor.

"It was a backspin curve with a lot backspin on it," Smith said. "When it bounced off Beau, he turned to go back and the ball bounced back to the edge of the grass. I saw he didn't know where it was, so I went and got it and thankfully had time to make the play."

Smith could not recall earning an assist on a strikeout.

"That was a first for me," he said. "In baseball, you've always got to be prepared for anything, I guess."

The 2009 13th-round Draft pick ended the sixth with a groundout and got another strikeout in a perfect seventh before handing the ball to Carlos Fisher. Fisher allowed a run in the eighth, but Nate Long worked a scoreless ninth.

Tyler Ladendorf doubled twice and drove in three runs for the RockHounds, while Anthony Aliotti and Darwin Perez both contributed two hits and two RBIs. Leadoff man Conner Crumbliss went 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored.

Adames knocked in the Drillers' lone run.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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