Anthony Rizzo ended it, but the way it started was probably the most impressive thing about the Yankees’ 2-1 win over the Rays Thursday night. Rizzo hit a walk-off solo home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to complete the three-game sweep of their division rival at the Stadium.
But it was the excellent emergency spot start from Clarke Schmidt and the bulk innings from Ryan Weber, who was called up late Wednesday night, which was most impressive within the clubhouse walls.
“I just think it says a lot about what our clubhouse is about,” Rizzo said. “Guys come in and [feel] right away that they’re part of this. I mean, there’s a lot of big names in this clubhouse and you would never know inside. It’s just everyone is treated very equally on the same level here whether you have a couple days in the big leagues or 12, 13, 15 years.
“We just keep it loose. And our coaching staff does a really good job at keeping us prepared and keeping us ready.”
Rizzo’s single in the bottom of the sixth tied the game and his 16th homer of the season allowed the Yankees to win their seventh straight game and 14 straight at the Stadium. It was the Bombers’ eighth walk-off win of the season. They take a 12-game lead over the Rays in the American League East now and 10 over the Blue Jays, who they will play this weekend.
But the Yankees only got there because of Schmidt and Weber stepping up.
Schmidt, who had been giving the Yankees length out of the bullpen, looked ready for his start, even though he didn’t find out until about five hours before first pitch that Luis Severino was scratched with an illness — which turned out not to be COVID.
Schmidt pitched three scoreless innings, Weber allowed just a solo homer in 3.2 innings followed by Ron Marinaccio throwing a perfect 1.1 innings and Michael King closing it by striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
Schmidt gave up one hit, walked one and struck out five over three innings of work. He walked Ji-Man Choi and then gave up a single to Yandy Diaz in the first inning. He retired the last six batters he faced.
Not bad for a few hours’ notice, which is all Schmidt got.
“We kind of knew Sevy was under the weather, but I just decided to treat it like a call out of the bullpen,” Schmidt said. “I think that was the best mentality to have.”
He had made one start last season, allowing five runs, two earned, on four hits over 4.1 innings pitched in a September loss to the Mets. The 26-year-old right-hander had made 11 appearances out of the bullpen this season, pitching to a 3.26 ERA. He’d struck out 15 and walked 10 in 19.1 innings pitched prior to Thursday night.
But none of his appearances this season had been this big.
Schmidt handed it over to Weber, who was told Wednesday night to travel from Scranton to New York to be on the big league club’s taxi squad. He arrived and saw his name was active on the lineup card and dove right in. Weber gave up the solo shot to Francisco Mejia, but shut the Rays down around that.
“Weber got his name called tonight and he got the job done. He gave the bullpen some really big innings and put up a lot of zeros,” Schmidt said. “And so I think every night you could just point to another guy who gets the job done. Not that it wasn’t expected. It’s just sometimes it just comes as a surprise that everybody is just continuing to get the job done.
“And that’s what really good baseball teams do.”
Weber’s arrival in the clubhouse Thursday afternoon was welcomed by many of the Yankees’ regulars. The 31-year-old journeyman pitcher who has played for the Red Sox, Mariners and Rays was a popular player at spring training. That was where Boone gave the speech he’s given before that every player in that room, even the ones not on the 40-man roster, can contribute to a championship run.
Weber and the Yankees seem to be taking that to heart.
“Every single person is doing the job and doing it really well too. I mean, for me to come up and help the team, they see that, they know and this team is rolling right now,” Weber said. “It was fun to be a part of it for one night.”