Yankees’ Clarke Schmidt scales new heights with career-best 8-frame game, blanks Twins

Yankees' Clarke Schmidt pitches eight scoreless innings against the Twins on May 16, 2024, at Target Field.

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In a remarkable display of pitching prowess, Clarke Schmidt achieved a significant milestone in his career during Thursday’s game against the Twins. The 28-year-old right-hander not only reached the elusive seven-inning mark for the first time but also ventured into uncharted territory by completing eight scoreless innings in a dominant performance that sealed the Yankees’ sweep with a 5-0 victory at Target Field.

Clarke Schmidt’s masterful outing saw him strike out eight batters, issue no walks, and allow a mere three hits while throwing a career-high 103 pitches. His efforts played a crucial role in the Yankees (30-15) securing their fourth consecutive win and their 10th victory in the last 12 games.

Reflecting on his achievement, Clarke Schmidt acknowledged the importance of earning the right to stay in games longer. He emphasized the need to prove oneself worthy of facing lineups multiple times and building trust with the coaching staff. Clarke Schmidt expressed his determination to demonstrate his ability and instill confidence in manager Aaron Boone to hand him the ball in the later innings. He noted that his last two starts have undoubtedly signaled progress in the right direction.

“Obviously you have to earn that right to stay in those games,” the Yankees pitcher said. “You gotta earn that right to be able to face lineups three times and earn that trust factor. That’s something I’m trying to do every time I go out there and make [Aaron Boone] feel comfortable giving me the ball in the sixth, seventh, eighth innings. Definitely a step in the right direction these past two starts.”

The road trip, which began with Clarke Schmidt matching his career-best 6 ²/₃ scoreless innings against the Rays last Friday, concluded with an even more impressive performance against the Twins (24-19), who had been the hottest team in MLB before this series.

Yankees' Clarke Schmidt pitches eight scoreless innings against the Twins on May 16, 2024, at Traget Field.

Clarke Schmidt goes eight, silences Twins

Despite not completing six innings in any of his first seven starts this season, Clarke Schmidt has now accomplished this feat in back-to-back outings, showcasing his continued growth and development as a starting pitcher. His ability to go deep into games and dominate opposing lineups has solidified his position in the Yankees’ rotation and has generated excitement about his future potential.

Clarke Schmidt’s stellar performance capped off a dominant series for the Yankees’ pitching staff, as they limited the Twins to a single run—a leadoff home run against Carlos Rodon in the series opener—while holding them to a paltry .144 batting average, issuing only four walks, and striking out 22 batters.

Throughout the entire road trip, the Yankees‘ starting rotation was nothing short of exceptional, with four scoreless outings and a combined 1.18 ERA over 38 innings pitched.

Manager Aaron Boone praised his team’s ability to walk into a challenging environment and find success against a formidable opponent that had been playing exceptionally well. He acknowledged that such an achievement contributed to a highly successful road trip.

Clarke-Schmidt-new-york-yankees
AP

Following his previous start against the Rays, Clarke Schmidt had vowed to earn Boone’s trust and leave him no choice but to allow him to pitch deeper into games. That promise came to fruition swiftly on Thursday.

However, Clarke Schmidt put those concerns to rest on Thursday, as the Twins went 1-for-9 the third time through the lineup and 0-for-3 the fourth time around.

Before this game, seven of the 14 earned runs Clarke Schmidt had surrendered this season occurred in the sixth inning, and opposing hitters had a .400 batting average when facing him for the third time in a game.

Despite his impressive outing, Clarke Schmidt’s confident and competitive nature left him yearning for more. While he avoided Boone in the dugout during the top of the seventh and eighth innings, he made a direct approach to the manager after completing the bottom of the eighth, demonstrating his desire to continue pitching and his unwavering belief in his abilities.

Clarke Schmidt’s growth and maturity as a starting pitcher have been evident throughout this series, and his determination to earn the trust of his manager and teammates has been a driving force behind his success.

After completing the eighth inning, Clarke Schmidt approached Boone with a grin, eager to finish the game. Boone revealed that the pitcher was adamant about achieving a complete game shutout, which aligned with his high expectations for himself. The Yankees manager acknowledged the significance of this accomplishment to Clarke Schmidt and expressed his lack of surprise at the pitcher’s determination.

Throughout the game, Clarke Schmidt effectively utilized his cutter, a pitch that had undergone challenges the previous year, to navigate the predominantly left-handed Twins lineup. He generated an impressive 16 whiffs and complemented his cutter with a strong curveball, sweeper, and sinker, keeping the opposing batters off-balance.

The Yankees provided Clarke Schmidt with early run support, taking a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound, including a leadoff home run by Anthony Volpe. Clarke Schmidt set the tone by striking out the first two batters he faced, setting the stage for another crucial day in his development as a starting pitcher.

Teammate Aaron Judge, who had added two more doubles following his impressive 4-for-4 performance the previous day, emphasized the importance of Clarke Schmidt’s outing while expressing satisfaction in witnessing the pitcher’s growth over the past few seasons and calling for more dominant performances like this in the future.

Marcus Stroman went a step further, “I’m his biggest fan. His stuff’s just so elite. I feel like we’re very similar in terms of confidence, mentality. I feel like he always wants to the ball…to see his progression to see how good he is, that hypes me up more than people know.”

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