Schmidt sets off celebration

Schmidt sets off celebration

SAN FRANCISCO -- It had been 102 years since a Giants pitcher, any Giants pitcher of the New York or San Francisco ilk, had struck out 16 batters in a single game.

And when Jason Schmidt did it on Tuesday night in a classic 2-1 victory over the Marlins at AT&T Park, this current edition knew how to celebrate -- by dousing him with the King of Beers.

"That was one of the highlights of my career -- getting a reception like that from the guys," said Schmidt, who tied the legendary Christy Mathewson's franchise record set in 1904 and broke the San Francisco mark of 15 set by Gaylord Perry in 1966. "These guys have been awesome to everybody. I'll never forget that, that's for sure."

Schmidt was late making it into the clubhouse after the complete-game, seven-hit gem, and teammates Noah Lowry and Tim Worrell hid behind a window in manager Felipe Alou's office, the blinds drawn, waiting for the big right-hander to make his entrance, his 2-year-old son, Mason, in tow. Someone scooped up the boy as cans of Budweiser were popped, the cold brew cascading down Schmidt's nearly bald head.

Mason began to cry and was whisked from the premises. His father, now drenched from head to toe, stood on a carpet of dark green towels in the middle of the locker room.

"I might as well get undressed right here," he said.

Back at his locker, the aroma of ode de Clydesdale permeated his end of the room.

During a season in which Babe Ruth has had such a presence as Barry Bonds tied and passed the Bambino to go into second place on the all-time home run list and now sits at 716, it's strange that thoughts of the past turned to Mathewson on Tuesday night.

The Giants pre-dated the Yankees in New York and dominated the city until Ruth and the Yankees took over in 1923, the year Yankee Stadium was opened and the Bombers defeated the Giants for their first World Series title.

Mathewson, who won 373 games and went into the Hall of Fame with Ruth in the first class of 1936, whiffed his 16 on Oct. 3, 1904, against the Cardinals at the Polo Grounds. Perry cashiered his 15 on July 22, 1966, against the Phillies at Candlestick Park.

Schmidt said he was baffled that his name could now be mentioned in the same breath as a pair of Hall of Famers.

"I can't even picture that right now, I really can't," Schmidt said. "It's something I never thought I'd touch. What's the highest I've ever had, 13? I never thought I'd get past that. Maybe tomorrow. The way these guys acted when I came in here made it start to sink in a little bit."

Even though it wasn't a no-hitter, nor did the Giants clinch a championship of any kind, the celebration may be a symbol for the remainder of the season. Schmidt had struck out 13 guys in a game four times already in his career, but with the streak he's put together of late, the timing only seemed perfect.

Schmidt, the National League's Pitcher of the Month for May, is 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA and three complete games since April 28. On Tuesday night, mixing his pitches well, he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning when Florida's Josh Willingham led off with a home run.

"I knew that was a base hit the minute the pitch left my hand," Schmidt said.

Schmidt had thrown 100 pitches going into the ninth as the Giants nursed a one-run lead, and Alou didn't have anyone up in the bullpen as the final inning began.

"It was his game to win or lose," Alou said. "The guy had 16 strikeouts. What other way should it have been?"

Just like that, though, Schmidt allowed two singles, and with hot-hitting Miguel Cabrera at the plate, he uncorked a wild pitch. Runners on second and third. Right-hander Jeremy Accardo and left-hander Steve Kline now heated up. Pitching coach Dave Righetti came to the mound to discuss the situation with first base open.

"Cabrera was the big hitter," said Schmidt, who was thinking strikeout all the way. "He's the last guy I wanted to see up there in that situation. I knew if I got him, we had a chance."

Got him, he did, swinging. And when Willingham and Jeremy Hermida followed suit the same way, Schmidt got the win and tied the 102-year-old record. He threw 124 pitches, an astounding 81 of them for strikes.

At the time, though, Schmidt had no clue what had transpired.

"I was still thinking about second and third," he said. "Then the guys came running out of the dugout, and I'm glad we had won the game more than anything. So I'm shaking everybody's hand and their congratulating me for breaking the record. I'm going, what record? I didn't know what happened. It was exciting and unexpected."

And drenching in a champagne of bottled beers sort of way.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for reporter Rich Draper contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.