Clarke Schmidt is trending in the right direction.
If there was any doubt about that, Thursday evening provided a prime example.
Facing the potent Orioles on a night when several calls didn’t go his way, the right-hander still continued to present more positives than negatives in the Yankees’ 3-1 loss at the Stadium.
“I feel like I’m making a lot of really good strides, getting better each time out and learning a lot more, continuing to grow as a starter,” Schmidt said after allowing one earned run while striking out four and walking two over five gritty innings.
The performance capped a strong May for Schmidt, who has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts.
This start could’ve easily lasted longer, if not for home-plate umpire Edwin Moscoso.
Schmidt should’ve been out of the opening inning.
Instead, he walked Gunnar Henderson to load the bases.
Three pitches caught part of the strike zone, three pitches that would’ve punched out Henderson.
They were all called balls.
The right-hander didn’t let it get to him.
He retired Austin Hays on a pop-up to escape the frame.
“Stuff like that’s going to happen,” said Schmidt, who threw 97 pitches, 65 for strikes. “You have to do a good job of wiping it and moving on. … The best thing is to continue to try to hit your spots and execute as much as you can, and hopefully the tide will eventually turn. I try not to let it affect me too much when I’m out there.”
Those extra pitches obviously didn’t help Schmidt go deep into the game, as he threw 29 pitches in the first inning.
But manager Aaron Boone was pleased with his pitcher’s ability to still get through five innings while allowing just one run against one of the better lineups in the American League.
“I thought he was really good, against a tough lineup with some really tough left-handed hitters in that lineup,” Boone said. “He kept us right there, gave us a chance.”
Boone also had his pitcher’s back.
The manager was tossed by Moscoso for arguing balls and strikes in the third inning.
Schmidt went out of his way to thank Boone for the support.
“We’re fighting tooth and nail out there, so to see your manager fighting tooth and nail for you as well, it’s a good feeling,” Schmidt said. “I know he’s always going to have our backs. You saw that tonight.”