After matching a 102-year-old franchise mark in his last start, Schmidt faces one of his former teams when the San Francisco Giants wrap up a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at AT&T Park on Sunday.
Schmidt (6-2, 2.53 ERA) also will try to win his seventh straight decision. Starting with a win over Atlanta on April 28, the right-hander is 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA, striking out 60 while walking just 10 over eight starts.
Schmidt struck out a career-high 16 batters in a 2-1 win Tuesday over Florida to equal the Giants’ single-game strikeout record set by Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson on Oct. 3, 1904, against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The ninth inning may have been Schmidt’s most impressive of the season. With runners on second and third and no outs, he fanned cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera, Josh Willingham and Jeremy Hermida to end the game.
“I was still trying to figure out how I was going to get out of the inning after it was over,” Schmidt said the day after his effort. “If you didn’t have second and third, the drama wouldn’t have been as extreme. … You have to think about strikeouts. Very rarely does it work out like that.”
Schmidt started his career in 1995 with Atlanta and played with Pittsburgh from 1997-2001 before being traded to San Francisco in August of that year with John Vander Wal for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong.
In four full seasons since, Schmidt averaged 15 wins and fewer than seven losses. He is 4-1 with 35 strikeouts and just seven walks in his career against Pittsburgh.
He will be opposed by Paul Maholm (2-5, 4.57), looking for his first win in nearly a month. In four starts since posting a victory over Cincinnati on May 16, the left-hander is 0-1 with a 4.43 ERA with his only loss in that span coming in his last outing.
He gave up a season-high 11 hits over five innings Tuesday in a 5-4 defeat to Colorado.
“It’s not like they were smoking the ball,” Maholm said. “They were hitting ground balls through. I was throwing it in the strike zone, they were getting hits, they were aggressive, and that’s part of it.”
Maholm, who is making his first career start against San Francisco, is 0-4 with a 5.68 ERA in five road starts this season.
After losing the series opener Thursday, Pittsburgh (24-39) has come back to win consecutive road games for the first time this season. A victory in this contest would give the Pirates their first series win away from home.
“It’s a team thing. We’ve shown signs of turning the corner, but it’s just a matter of believing in ourselves,” Pirates starter Ian Snell said after combining with three relievers on a six-hitter Saturday. “Everybody in here is doing their part to turn it around. We just have to trust one another and believe in each other.”
The Giants (32-30) played without Barry Bonds for the fourth straight game. Bonds is nursing a sore left side and isn’t expected to play again until next week when San Francisco travels to Arizona.
“He wanted to play today but the trainers don’t feel he should play,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “They don’t believe he should take a chance, not today, not tomorrow.”