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Former Raider Smith pitching well for Indians

Former Wright State pitcher Joe Smith is one of the top pitchers in the Cleveland Indians bullpen and has the numbers to prove it: 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 20 games and 18 innings. He threw a scoreless inning Wednesday night in a 5-2 victory over the Reds in Cleveland.

Earlier in the week, though, while the Indians were in Cincinnati for two games, both of which they lost, Smith was focusing on his recent outings.

“Personally, I’ve stunk as of late,” Smith said Tuesday. “I haven’t thrown the ball good. My overall numbers are good, but I’ve stunk lately.”

Smith’s comment about his performance had a lot to do with his previous outing Sunday, when he threw one pitch against the Red Sox and gave up a walk-off, two-run double to Jacoby Ellsbury in the ninth.

The day before, he threw a scoreless inning, and he gave up a run in one inning May 20. Prior to that, Smith had pitched a single inning in five straight appearances and hadn’t allowed a run, so maybe it was an exaggeration for him to say he’s stunk.

The Indians bullpen, as a whole, has struggled. Through Wednesday, it ranked 22nd in baseball with an ERA of 4.18. Smith has the best number of any reliever on the team. Maybe that’s because he’s learned to put the rare bad outing behind him.

“You have to,” he said. “You’re a reliever. (Bad days) are going to come. It’s just how you handle them. Hopefully, you put keep your lows short and get back up on an even keep and keep throwing strikes. Eventually, they’ll hit it at somebody.”

This is Smith’s seventh season in the big leagues and fourth season in Cleveland. He was 7-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 72 games last season and 3-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 71 appearances in 2011. His career numbers are just as impressive: 23-14 with a 3.00 ERA in 388 games.

Smith would like to experience some team success, and it’s so far so good for the Indians in 2013. New manager Terry Francona has a lot to do with that.

“It’s awesome,” Smith said. “He keeps it real loose, yet we work. We know when it’s time to get serious.”

Men’s basketball: Mark Howell, a 5-10 point guard from South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, announced his verbal commitment to the Wright State basketball program on Twitter on Wednesday. Howell averaged 12 points and 3.4 assists per game as a senior and hit 46 3-pointers in 34 games.

If Howell signs and plays for the Raiders, he would add depth on the perimeter. Wright State was in need of another point guard after freshman guards Joe Bramanti and Bobo Drummond left the program after last season.

South Grand Prairie lost in the Class 5A boys basketball state title game in March.

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