Halfway through May, Cubs lefty Brian Smith has already had a memorable month. He donned the Cougars' Chewbacca-themed Star Wars jersey two weeks ago, took in a game at Wrigley with some teammates, maintained his Canadian pride despites his Maple Leafs tortured departure from the playoffs and, on Wednesday night, he got word he'd be starting for Kane County less than 24 hours later.
"I was a little shocked at first," Smith said. "I'm the long-relief guy."
Smith penciled in another good memory, though, throwing four hitless innings in a spot start and combining with Eddie Orozco and Jeffry Antigua on a seven-inning one-hitter as Class A Kane County blanked Peoria, 5-0, in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday afternoon.
"Everything felt good, everything was working out there for me today," said Smith, the Cubs' 40th-round pick in 2010. "I was going with fastball and chanegup for today, couple curveballs."
Making his first start since last Aug. 1, Smith struck out two and walked a pair in his 10th outing of the season. Wednesday's effort was also his longest since June 27 of last year, when he lasted four innings for the Rookie-level Arizona League Cubs.
"I had a good mindset, just to pitch how I've been pitching, stick to my gameplan, do what I can do," he said. "I found out yesterday after the game."
Smith, a Pickering, Ontario, native, struck out two in the first, worked around a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt in the second, pitched a 1-2-3 third and got Casey Rasmus to bounce into a fielder's choice in the fourth following his second free pass to Jordan Walton.
Smith said he wasn't told of any pitch count or limit for the day, but he enjoyed seeing his bullpen mates close the door on Kane County's one-hitter.
"It was good, a really good feeling to see the bullpen come in and shut them down."
Orozco (2-2) struck out one and allowed the Chiefs' lone hit in the fifth to the first batter he faced, Patrick Wisdom. He faced six batters in picking up his second win before Antigua whiffed one in the seventh.
Smith started 12 of the 14 games he pitched in during is rookie campaign in 2011 with the AZL Cubs. He said he's open to either role at this point.
"I wouldn't mind being in the rotation, but my role is a reliever, and I'll do whatever they want me to," he said. "Just go out there and throw strikes."
As for the days leading up to the game, Smith said it's been a good few weeks.
"It's been good, really exciting, I'm just having fun, going along with everything, and things are falling into place," he said.
The Chewy jersey?
"It was a good night, I didn't mind the jersey," he laughed. "It was a fun night, looking forward to the next one."
Toronto's exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though, wasn't as fun.
"It was a rough last minute and a half for me," said Smith, who faced some rival teammates pulling for the Bruins. "That's the way it goes."
Kane County took a 1-0 lead in the second when Pin-Chieh Chen singled home Marco Hernandez. Gioskar Amaya broke the game open with a threee-run double to highlight a sixth-inning outburst -- Dan Vogelbach knocked him home with a double for a 5-0 cushion.
Chiefs starter Kurt Heyer (2-2), the Cardinals' sixth-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Arizona, struck out six, walked three and was charged with five runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings to suffer his second straight loss.