Yankees duo turns game changers in victory over White Sox

Yankees' starter Clarke Schmidt and Isiah Kiner-Falefa is seen during the game against the White Sox on August 8, 2023, in Chicago.

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When the Yankees season began in April, no one had ever thought that Clarke Schmidt and Isiah Kiner-Falefa would emerge as crucial figures for the team. In a lineup dominated by big names and highly rated rookies, the two players were thought to be insignificant contributors.

However, on Tuesday, at Guaranteed Rate Field, Schmidt once again produced an impressive start, while Kiner-Falefa’s crucial hit during a four-run fourth inning played a pivotal role in propelling the Yankees to a 7-1 victory over the White Sox.

Despite having 48 games remaining, the Yankees haven’t reached their desired position yet. However, it’s worth considering that without the significant inputs from Schmidt and Kiner-Falefa, their situation could have been even more challenging.

Following a tough 5-1 defeat against the struggling White Sox (46-69) on the previous night, the Yankees (59-55) bounced back and managed to narrow the gap to 4 ½ games behind the last AL playoff spot.

Despite their offense not having a flawless performance, the Yankees stranded 10 runners and recorded 17 strikeouts. However, their efforts were sufficient to create an opportunity for them to secure a series victory on Wednesday.

Schmidt gave Yankees a much-needed win

AP Photo/Erin Hooley

Arriving at the Yankees’ training camp this spring, Schmidt found himself in a situation where his role was uncertain, positioned on the fringes of a Major League Baseball rotation that was anticipated to be among the strongest.

Subsequently, due to injuries befalling Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas, Schmidt’s chance for his inaugural starting opportunity in the major leagues emerged.

It’s an understatement to suggest that Schmidt hasn’t fully utilized his prolonged opportunity in the starting lineup. As the months passed, he continued to excel in a breakout season, silencing skeptics by consistently delivering strong performances in the Yankees rotation that has faced numerous challenges.

The trend continued on Tuesday night in Chicago. Schmidt, the right-handed pitcher, delivered 5 1/3 innings of impressive pitching, allowing just one run while striking out seven White Sox batters. This performance contributed to a 7-1 victory for the Yankees, marking his eighth win of the season.

After the win, Yankees manager Aaron Boone highlighted that Schmidt has become a reliable figure in the rotation, particularly after Gerrit Cole. Boone noted that Schmidt has consistently delivered strong performances over the past couple of months, showcasing notable growth and confidence in his abilities.

In his last 14 starts, Schmidt has consistently held his opponents to three runs or less. Throughout this season, he has managed to achieve this feat in 19 games. This places him among the esteemed company, with only Sonny Gray of the Twins (21), Blake Snell of the Padres (20), and Cole (20) having more such impressive performances in 2023. This remarkable consistency is a clear indication of Schmidt’s impressive performance throughout the summer.

In the grand scheme of things, Schmidt’s ERA for the season stands at 4.23. At first glance, this might not appear remarkable. However, it’s the unwavering steadiness he’s displayed as a starting pitcher, especially considering his initial challenges as a first-time full-fledged big-league starter, that truly highlights the impressive nature of his performance this year.

Schmidt emphasized the significance of maintaining consistency during the crucial stretch, expressing his intention to carry this principle forward. Reflecting on the challenges he faced earlier in the year and the resilience he exhibited in response, he highlighted the importance of bouncing back and taking pride in his current successful streak. He expressed satisfaction in his current performance run, intending to relish it for a brief period before refocusing on his continuous efforts to improve.

Kiner-Falefa led the Yankees rally to win the game

AP Photo/Erin Hooley

In the fourth inning, the Yankees experienced a turnaround as they capitalized on a rapid decline in White Sox starter Touki Toussaint’s performance, allowing them to secure an early and commanding advantage. The team managed an unusual and consecutive stretch of success, with six batters reaching base in succession with only one out. This uncommon prolonged surge from the Yankees was highlighted by Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s two-run double and an RBI single delivered by Harrison Bader. The inning’s conclusion saw leadoff hitter Jake Bauers contributing to the four-run tally with a sacrifice fly, narrowly missing a grand slam opportunity as the bases were loaded.

After delivering a two-run double earlier in the inning, Isiah Kiner-Falefa celebrates with his teammates as he scores later in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 7-1 victory over the White Sox.

In the eighth inning, Kyle Higashioka added to the lead with a two-run homer, and Aaron Judge contributed a solo home run to provide some breathing room. For Judge, who also earned three walks, this marked his second home run in 11 games since his return from the injured list.

This ample support proved crucial for Schmidt, who displayed exceptional performance by allowing only one run over 5 ¹/₃ innings. His consistent contributions to the Yankees’ rotation are especially valuable during a time when their pitching depth is becoming increasingly challenged.

Having left 28 runners stranded across Sunday and Monday’s games, the Yankees managed to place a lone runner on base in each of the initial three innings on Tuesday, yet failed to convert these opportunities.

They left a runner on base during both the first and second innings, followed by Jake Bauers being caught off guard and picked off at first base while Gleyber Torres was at the plate in the third inning.

However, in the fourth inning, Giancarlo Stanton and Billy McKinney each connected with singles consecutively off Touki Toussaint. This set the stage for Kiner-Falefa’s decisive contribution. The versatile utility player, stationed at third base for the game, delivered a solid double to the left-center field gap, successfully bringing both runners across the plate to establish a 2-0 lead for the Yankees.

Following that, Harrison Bader (3-for-5, two runs) stepped up and executed a well-placed single past the extended dive of first baseman Andrew Vaughn. This hit enabled Kiner-Falefa to cross home plate, expanding the lead to 3-0.

Anthony Volpe and Ben Rortvedt exhibited patience and earned walks, subsequently loading the bases. Bauers then narrowly missed a grand slam by mere feet, settling for a deep sacrifice fly that stretched the Yankees’ advantage to 4-0.

Judge’s patient approach earned him a walk, reloading the bases, yet Torres couldn’t capitalize as he succumbed to a strikeout on a pitch that hit the dirt, letting slip an opportunity to significantly widen the game’s margin.

The Yankees bullpen too pitched in

In a swift turn of events, Schmidt yielded a run in the ensuing bottom of the fourth inning. Luis Robert Jr. launched his 31st home run of the season, swiftly bringing the score to 4-1.

Subsequently, in the sixth inning, the White Sox managed to position runners at the corners with only one out, prompting the entrance of Michael King in relief of Schmidt.

King proceeded to exhibit his prowess by striking out Yoan Moncada and Vaughn consecutively, effectively leaving both runners stranded. King’s performance continued to dazzle as he secured five strikeouts over a commendable 2 ²/₃ innings.


Later, Jonathan Loaisiga made his return to the mound for the first time since April 5, following his elbow surgery in early May. He capped off the game with a flawless ninth inning, showcasing his skill in a triumphant comeback.

The Yankees secured their first six-run victory since June 29, a day following Domingo German’s perfect game in Oakland. When questioned about whether such a sizable lead contributes to the team’s momentum and spirit, Bader emphasized that the clubhouse’s primary concern was to accomplish their tasks and get victories, irrespective of the score.

According to Bader, the number of runs doesn’t dictate the importance of a win, stating that whether it’s a narrow victory in the ninth inning or a substantial one like the game they played, their focus is on securing wins and progressing forward. He highlighted that they have 48 games remaining in the season and their ultimate goal is to get the job done and accumulate wins.

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