A few months ago, it looked like Nick Schmidt's career was at an end. On Wednesday, he made his best start ever.
Schmidt allowed two hits and struck out a season-high eight batters over eight frames as Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore defeated Bakersfield, 2-0, in 10 innings.
A first-round pick by the Padres in 2007, Schmidt allowed a two-out single in the second inning to Kevin Coddington and immediately picked him off first base. He then retired 13 in a row before walking Ryan LaMarre with one out in the seventh.
"Catcher Eddy Rodriguez and I were on the same page and we've been like that the whole year," Schmidt said.
The left-hander is looking to turn around a career that has been sidetracked by injuries. He underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2007, just months after he was drafted. The Missouri native had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder this past spring, a procedure that was actually a blessing for him.
"I thought I had torn my labrum and I went in thinking my career was over," Schmidt said. "I didn't think I would be playing again. I went from not even thinking I would be playing baseball again to a six-week rehab."
While some hurlers would be frustrated to not have gotten a victory for a start like he had Wednesday, Schmidt is grateful just to take the mound.
"It's the best outing of my pro career and I am just humbled to have it," he said. "I didn't think I'd be pitching baseball, let alone having outings like tonight."
The 25-year-old is 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA in six starts for the Storm in 2011, striking out 31 in 34 1/3 innings. Schmidt hopes starts like this one will show he's healthy and ready to take the next step.
"Yeah, of course, it's in the back of your mind," he said of a possible promotion. "But my whole career I've been on the disabled list every year and that's something I need to focus on and everything will take care of itself."
Aaron Breit (1-0) allowed a hit in an inning of relief for the win, while Jason Ray surrendered two hits in the bottom of the 10th but held on for his eighth save.
Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the top of the 10th and finished 3-for-4 for Lake Elsinore.