Clarke Schmidt deliberately avoids Boone, pitches the seventh

Yankees's starter Clarke Schmidt pitches against the Rockies on July 15, 2023, at Coors Field.

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DENVER — As the sixth inning came to an end on Saturday night, Clarke Schmidt intentionally steered clear of Yankees manager Aaron Boone. With his performance going smoothly, the right-handed pitcher had his sights set on taking the mound for the seventh inning.

Clarke Schmidt later commented with a grin after the Yankees’ 6-3 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field that he was familiar with the usual outcome of such conversations. He explained that he deliberately avoided creating an opportunity for the manager to express gratitude by maneuvering around him as much as he could.

“I know how that conversation typically goes,” the starter told following the game. “So I didn’t want to leave any room for him to say, ‘Thank you for your work.’ So I tried to make my way around him as much as I possibly could.”

Clarke Schmidt’s strategy paid off, as he managed to pitch to one batter in the seventh inning. Despite giving up a home run to C.J. Cron, which concluded his outing on a disappointing note, it was still a significant milestone in his growth as a starting pitcher.

It was the first time in his career that Clarke Schmidt made it into the seventh inning.

It is Clarke Schmidt’s best game so far

AP Photp/ David Zalubowski

Beyond the Yankees‘ impressive 6-3 victory over the Rockies on Saturday night, there was something even more noteworthy. The most notable aspect of the Yankees’ win was the outstanding performance delivered by their starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt, who has consistently excelled after a bumpy starting debut.

While it was certainly encouraging to witness a resurgence in their offensive performance, highlighted by Giancarlo Stanton‘s continued power surge and DJ LeMahieu‘s first consecutive multi-hit games since April, what stood out the most was the fact that it marked the first time Clarke Schmidt went on pitching seventh innings.

In the hitter-friendly environment of Coors Field, both hits and runs are often abundant. While the performance of the Rockies’ starting pitcher on Saturday resembled a subpar outing, Clarke Schmidt did the opposite. This allowed effective support for the Yankees’ offense to shine after a disappointing display in the previous game and level the series.

Despite the challenges of pitching in the high altitude of Coors Field, Clarke Schmidt showcased excellent control and effectiveness throughout the game. His curveball remained sharp, his overall pitch repertoire was impressive, and his command was impeccable. Apart from a run allowed due to a balk and a solo home run surrendered in his final inning, Clarke Schmidt delivered a stellar performance. He limited the Rockies to just two runs on three hits across six-plus innings, striking out eight batters while issuing only one walk.

Clarke Schmidt achieved a significant milestone by pitching into the seventh inning for the first time in his career. However, his impressive outing came to an end on his 92nd pitch when C.J. Cron crushed a 452-foot home run to center field. The pitch, a sweeper that was located down the middle, resulted in a powerful blast that narrowed the score to 6-2.

The Rockies managed to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning through a series of events. Jurickson Profar, the leadoff hitter, was hit by a pitch and then advanced to third base on two consecutive groundouts. With runners on the corners, Clarke Schmidt committed a balk, allowing the runner on third to score and leveling the game.

Despite disputing the call, Clarke Schmidt couldn’t escape the fact that he had inadvertently moved his right leg before initiating his delivery, which resulted in the balk being called.

Following the run-scoring balk, Clarke Schmidt quickly recovered by striking out Cron on a three-pitch sequence. From that point on, he effectively shut down the Rockies, allowing only three baserunners over his remaining five-plus innings. This stellar performance helped lower his ERA to an impressive 4.31.

Following a challenging start to his season, Clarke Schmidt’s record stood at 1 win and 4 losses with an ERA of 6.30 after completing nine starts.

The comeback of Clarke Schmidt

While Gerrit Cole remains the anchor of the pitching staff and earned another All-Star selection, Clarke Schmidt has emerged as a strong performer with a remarkable 2.83 ERA since May 19. Among all Yankees starters, Schmidt holds the lowest ERA during that timeframe.

He continued his impressive streak with another dominant outing, allowing just two runs on three hits, one walk, and one hit batter over six-plus innings. Clarke Schmidt showcased his prowess by striking out eight batters.

Clarke Schmidt acknowledged that reaching the seventh inning was a significant milestone in his development as a pitcher. He recognized that giving up the home run was not ideal but considered it a step forward in his goal to go deeper into games. Clarke Schmidt expressed his satisfaction with the progress he has made and emphasized the importance of taking small steps toward his objectives.

Over his past 10 starts, Clarke Schmidt has showcased remarkable consistency, recording a 2.86 ERA. This performance has been a valuable contribution to the Yankees, who have been in search of stability on the pitching front.

After the Yankees took an initial 1-0 lead, Clarke Schmidt’s night took an unexpected turn when he hit Jurickson Profar with a pitch. Eventually, Profar crossed home plate to equalize the score after his balk. It’s worth noting that the Yankees currently lead all MLB teams with a total of 11 balks this season.

However, after recording the last out in the first inning, Clarke Schmidt went on an impressive streak, retiring 16 out of the next 18 batters he faced. Unfortunately, his run came to an end when Cron hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh.

Clarke Schmidt expressed surprise that his first experience pitching into the seventh inning occurred at Coors Field, a ballpark known for its favorable conditions for hitters.

The starter acknowledged that the high altitude at Coors Field had an impact on the movement of his pitches, presenting an additional challenge for him to overcome.

Clarke Schmidt explained that he had to make some adjustments in terms of pitch placement and targeting during his outing at Coors Field. He noted that the breaking balls had less movement and the fastballs weren’t as lively in the high altitude. As a result, he focused on pitching to the corners and hitting the edges of the strike zone more effectively. Clarke Schmidt expressed gratitude for being able to execute his game plan successfully.

Boone expressed his admiration for Clarke Schmidt’s continuous improvement, admitting that he has been performing exceptionally well for a significant period of time. He acknowledged the starter’s ability to effectively navigate his way through the game.

“He continues to make huge strides,” Boone said. “He’s been really good now going on a couple months probably.”

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