Facing one of his last tune ups before the regular season, Clarke Schmidt just didn’t have much to fool his opponents in this one. The presumed fifth starter for the Yankees fought through a bunch of contact in this one, while his lineup failed to produce much of their own behind him in a 5-2 loss to the Nationals.
Schmidt ended up going 3.2 innings in his outing, but it didn’t start auspiciously. He induced a groundout to open the game before Dominic Smith lined a single to left, but Schmidt managed to erase him from the basepaths on a pickoff to quickly take back control. One more groundout later, and he was out of the first cleanly.
Similarly, the second inning was also not a problem. Schmidt breezed through this frame, retiring the Nationals in order on another pair of groundouts broken up by a strikeout of Jeimer Candelario, his lone K of the afternoon. The trouble began in the third, however, when Washington’s first three batters all reached on a Keibert Ruiz single and back-to-back walks. Schmidt minimized the immediate damage by getting Lane Thomas to groundout into a double play that scored a run, but Smith got to him again — this time it was a double to right that scored the leftover baserunner. Joey Meneses ended the inning on yet another groundout, but Washington had a 2-0 lead.
The fourth was kinder to Schmidt, but it would still bring him to his limit. Corey Dickerson flew out to start the inning, and Candelario gifted the Yankees an out when he tried to stretch a single into a double and got thrown out at second, but Luis Garcia and Ruiz slapped back-to-back hits that scored a third run and knocked Schmidt from the game.
What did the Yankees offense do in rebuttal up to this point? Well, for three innings they went down in order, but they did threaten in the second. Oswaldo Cabrera got on board with a single after Giancarlo Stanton grounded out to lead off, and moved over to second on a wild pitch. Aaron Hicks worked a walk to set up runners on first and second with one out, but Rafael Ortega and Carlos Narvaez both struck out to strand them. Obviously, that’s a product of spring training road games to set up those hitters in that situation, but the rest of the regulars struggled to get much else.
Michael King stepped in for Schmidt and closed out the fourth without incident, and then tossed another two innings to display that he is fully online again. This is the biggest takeaway that the Yanks got on the day, as a healthy King is a massive part of their bullpen plans this year, and he looked the part in this outing just like he has all spring.
New York finally got on the board in the seventh inning, thanks to Stanton and Cabrera both slapping some singles to set the table. A Hicks flyout moved Stanton over to third, and Ortega didn’t miss this time, lifting a sacrifice fly to left. The starters left the game after this point for the Yankees, but the Nats kept their guys in long enough to get Smith up with a man on in the eighth inning against Tyler Danish. Smith, who had been on point against the guy that the Yankees will be starting in the regular season, tee’d off on the guy with an ERA in the 30s for a two-run shot that made it 5-1.
In the ninth, Andres Chaparro continued to make the most of his opportunities with a single and a wild pitch moved him over to scoring position. That would be enough for Elijah Dunham to single him home and make it 5-2, but the rally ended quickly thereafter.
The Yankees are on the road again tomorrow, when Nestor Cortes squares off with Steven Matz and the Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter. St. Louis is streaming that game, so if you have MLB.tv, you’ll at least be able to tune in. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.