Sixth-inning blues strike back Clarke Schmidt threatening to ruin a stellar outing

Yankees' starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt is pitching against Oakland at Yankee Stadium on April 24, 2024.
Michael Bennington
Thursday April 25, 2024

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Clarke Schmidt‘s outing against the Oakland A’s on Tuesday showcased both his progress and a recurring hurdle he needs to overcome. For the first five innings, he looked sharp, reminiscent of his strong start to the season. He yielded only two hits, demonstrating the strides he has made compared to last year. However, the sixth inning painted a different picture for Clarke Schmidt.  

A hit-by-pitch followed by a double and a home run by the A’s quickly unraveled Clarke Schmidt’s attempt to go six full innings for the first time this year. Despite the late-inning hiccup, the Yankees secured a 7-3 victory, preserving the pitcher’s winning record.

His stuff remained consistent, claimed manager Aaron Boone and admitted that it was more about a slight execution lapse and maybe some questionable pitch selection.

Clarke Schmidt, star of the new york yankees

While Clarke Schmidt secured the win, allowing just three runs over five innings, his struggles in the sixth inning highlight an area for improvement. Entering this outing, the Yankees starter owned a concerning 54.00 ERA in the sixth inning this season. These struggles continued, as he surrendered three runs in the sixth while recording only one out.

Clarke Schmidt remains good despite sixth-inning woes

Clarke Schmidt himself acknowledged the need for better pitch selection in later innings. He emphasized the importance of maintaining composure and trusting his mechanics, rather than trying to overpower hitters. He recognized that pitchers, himself included, sometimes push too hard late in games, leading to decreased effectiveness.  

Despite his frustration with certain pitches, Clarke Schmidt extended his impressive streak of allowing three runs or fewer in 30 consecutive starts. This ties him with Blake Snell for second-most in Major League Baseball since last season’s start and puts him just two behind Sonny Gray. He also struck out at least six batters for the third straight game.

Prior to the sixth-inning woes, Oakland hitters went a staggering 12 consecutive at-bats without a hit. Clarke Schmidt even managed to erase the lone single with a double play, ending the fifth with just five pitches. 


Unfortunately, the sixth-inning troubles continued a troubling trend for Clarke Schmidt. In his first start of the season against the Astros, a similar pattern emerged – two doubles in three batters forced him out of the game after five innings of one-run ball. Two starts later against the Guardians, two singles in the sixth led to an early exit for him. This pattern repeated on Friday with a home run and a double in the sixth.

However, it’s important to remember Clarke Schmidt’s remarkable journey. Once relegated to the bullpen, he’s solidified himself as a dependable starter for the Yankees. Last year’s addition of a cutter to his arsenal boosted his consistency, and his performances have been consistently impressive. Now, conquering the sixth-inning hurdle will be the key to further solidifying his upward trajectory.  

Clarke Schmidt acknowledged that such unraveling in the sixth was certainly frustrating and he would look to bounce back in his next start and put a complete performance on the board.

“It could be pitch-selection things,” he admitted. “It could also be just kind of staying within myself and not trying to over-execute, just going out there and doing my job. … I think guys can tend to do that at the end of games, especially myself.”

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