With each dominant start, Jason Schmidt moves closer and closer to the NL Cy Young Award.
Coming off one of his best outings of the season, Schmidt will try to help the Giants increase their lead in the NL wild-card race when they continue their four-game series with the visiting Montreal Expos.
Schmidt tossed a four-hitter with one walk and 11 strikeouts in a 7-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
“Oh, he was amazing,” Giants catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. “It’s amazing just because he has so much confidence in his stuff. It doesn’t matter what the situation or the count. It doesn’t matter who’s even catching the ball. He just throws any pitch any time. It’s amazing.”
With 15 wins, Schmidt is tied for the major league lead with Oakland’s Mark Mulder. The hard-throwing right-hander has thrown eight shutouts in his career, including a league-leading three this season.
“Quite a pitcher we have,” manager Felipe Alou said. “When that guy’s pitching, we come in with a feeling that we’re winning.
“There aren’t very many good pitchers, not like that,” Alou continued. “I remember when I played for this team, when (Juan) Marichal was pitching, we knew we would win the game.”
Schmidt led the majors through Sunday’s games with a 2.59 ERA and ranked second in the NL with 186 strikeouts—though the leader, Arizona’s Randy Johnson with 202, has made three more starts.
Schmidt has struck out at least 10 in each of his last three starts. He has struck out at least 10 nine times this season and 21 times in his career. He is hoping to become the first Giants pitcher since Mike McCormick in 1967 to win the Cy Young Award.
“We got a long way to go,” Schmidt said. “You know the season’s getting down to the end, and obviously it’s something you’d like to win. There’s no doubt about that, but I still got a lot of starts to go. You can’t really put a lot of pressure on yourself for that; you just gotta go out and pitch.”
The Giants beat the Expos 8-5 on Monday to move a half-game ahead of the idle Chicago Cubs and a game ahead of San Diego in the wild-card race. The Padres lost 5-4 to Atlanta on Monday.
Ricky Ledee hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, helping San Francisco to its fifth straight win.
Alex Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Expos, who lost their second straight following a season-high seven-game winning streak.