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Athletics' Smith starts against Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- What else would you expect with a name like Smith?

Chris Smith will start for the Oakland A's on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels, a 36-year-old journeyman who certainly will try to take advantage of his anonymity to the Angels hitters.

Just last month, Smith became the oldest pitcher in Athletics franchise history to make his first big league start. He first broke into the big leagues as a reliever with the Boston Red Sox in 2008, and in brief stints in 2009-10 (Milwaukee Brewers) and 2016 (Oakland) pitched only out of the bullpen.

In fact, when Smith got the news he would be called up from Triple-A Nashville to start later that week for the A's, he thought it was a joke.

"I honestly didn't believe it," Smith told the San Francisco Chronicle. "(Nashville manager Ryan Christenson) told me, 'You're not going to start Friday. We're going to throw you on Saturday -- in Seattle.' I was like, 'What? Seattle? No, wait: Do they know I've never started a game in the big leagues in my life? Are you serious? Ryno, I think you've got the wrong guy.'

"He said, 'Hold on,' and looked at his email and said, 'No, it's you, you idiot!' I was like, 'OK, let's do it!' and then just straight nervous, like, 'Oh, God, what do I do?' But what have I got to lose? I'm a 36-year-old stay-home dad."

Smith (0-3, 5.56 ERA) threw a quality start in that first start against the Mariners, giving up three runs on six hits and one walk in six innings. He got a no-decision in what became a 4-3 Oakland victory.

He has made six more starts since then but is still looking for his first victory as a starter. His only career win in the big leagues came as a reliever with the Red Sox in 2008.

Smith did pitch against the Angels last season, throwing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief on Sept. 28. And he can say he struck out Mike Trout.

Trout missed the series opener Monday, when the Angels beat the A's 3-1, because of a sore neck. He is expected back in the lineup Tuesday. Even before tweaking his neck when running into the outfield wall Sunday, Trout was struggling at the plate. He is currently hitless in his past 17 at-bats, one short of his career-worst drought, which occurred in August 2014.

"I think every hitter in the game, no matter if you're Mike Trout or you're anybody, at times you're not going to square the ball up as well as you have at some point," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com. "He's still taking his walks. He's getting on base. He's just missing pitches he's been hitting earlier.

"He'll find it. He'll get it back. There's going to be some little downturns that everybody is going to have, and he's having his right now."

Smith's mound opponent Tuesday will be Troy Scribner, who, like Smith, made his first career big league start this season. After making two relief appearances, Scribner's initial start came against Oakland on Aug. 4, but it didn't go too well.

Scribner (2-1, 4.00) gave up five runs (two earned) on two hits and four walks in four innings. He has turned things around in his two starts since, giving up four earned runs in 10 innings (3.60 ERA).

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