Clarke Schmidt had the count he needed.
He had the situation, too.
There were two outs when the Blue Jays’ George Springer strolled to the plate in the fifth inning.
Schmidt started with two strikes and thought he’d placed a third, skipping off the mound toward the Yankees’ dugout.
Home plate umpire Bill Miller never rang up Springer, though.
Schmidt threw three more balls and then allowed a two-run homer to Bo Bichette that broke the game open in the Yankees’ 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays (84-67) on Tuesday.
“I think that was like the most frustrating thing,” Schmidt said about the call. “I haven’t looked at the gamecast. I felt like the 0-2 pitch was really close with the sinker in, and then just a tough [at-bat].”
Baseball Savant’s feed depicted most of the ball finishing outside the strike zone, but a sliver caught the inside edge against the right-handed Springer.
Schmidt finished the frame to cap his outing for the Yankees (76-75), allowing four runs on four hits and tying his season-low with one strikeout.
“I think, overall, just probably not quite the quality strikes that we’ve been used to seeing with him,” manager Aaron Boone said after Schmidt threw 52 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
After dissecting the Bichette homer, Schmidt concluded he shouldn’t have thrown a sinker.
Maybe a cutter, low and away, would’ve been effective, he said, because even if the sinker landed perfectly, Bichette had already faced seven of those. One turned into a single. The final traveled 390 feet.
“One pitch away,” Schmidt said, “and it’s kind of tough for it to end like that.”
Schmidt has become a consistent starter for the Yankees behind Gerrit Cole, figuring out how to string together strong starts one year after a relegation to the bullpen.
He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning after Springer’s leadoff homer, and Tuesday was just the fourth time in 26 starts in which he allowed four or more runs.
He wanted to control the Blue Jays’ first three hitters — Springer, Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — because they carried the offense.
Guerrero entered with a .291 career average against the Yankees, and Schmidt silenced him in three at-bats.
But the other elements of that plan imploded. Boone didn’t want to label it as fatigue, even as Schmidt climbed above 150 innings for the first time.
Schmidt, in retrospect, wanted to be more aggressive in the pivotal fifth.
Instead, the 27-year-old unraveled.
He thought the inning was over, and then it wasn’t.