ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO
Roger Clemens muscled his way through six innings against the Red Sox last night and earned his 299th career victory. Tim Wakefield offered a nice counter-point as he fluttered knuckleballs passed the Yanks, while Clemens—who didn’t have his best stuff—pounded the Sox with the hard stuff. Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra hit first inning dingers, and the score was tied at 2, with two outs in the sixth, when Clemens was hit in the hand with a line drive off the bat of Bill Mueller. Rocket stayed in the game and went right at Doug Mirabelli.
According to the Times:
With an 89-mile-an-hour splitter, Clemens struck out Doug Mirabelli to end the inning. He spun his arm around and pumped his fist twice. He returned to the dugout hollering. “You’ve got to hit me in the head to get me out,” Posada heard him say.
“He was fired up, trying to get us fired up,” Posada said. “Someone hit him, and he was still standing.”
Clemens was done for the night, but he didn’t go queitly. There was a heated exchange in the Yankee clubhouse after the sixth inning.
Gordon Edes reports:
”I saw him fighting Joe and Mel,” Cashman said. ”He said, `You are not taking me out.’ I said to myself, `I’m getting out of this room right now.’ This was Mel and Joe’s decision.
”Roger was saying, `Don’t even think about it.’ He’s a guy, you’ve got to drag him out of a situation.”
Raul Mondesi drove in Jorge Posada in the top of the seventh, and Robin Ventura added an RBI two-bagger in the 8th. (Ventura also made a nifty play to rob Manny Ramierz of a double in the 8th.) Chris Hammond worked the seventh and Antonio Osuna got the first two men out in the eigth before walking Trot Nixon. Mariano Rivera came on and immediately picked off Damian Jackson, who was pinch-running for Nixon, to end the inning.
Shea Hillenbrand led off the ninth with a fly ball to center field. Bernie Williams, who along with Hideki Matsui is in the midst of a terrible hitting slump, waved off Raul Mondesi with his glove hand and then dropped the ball. It was his first error of the season and Hillenbrand was on second base.
This was about the time that I started pounding my stickball bat into my couch and cursing wildly. (I’m sure Ed Cossette did the same when Jackson was picked off first.)
One out later, Hideki Matsui made a fantastic shoe string catch in left to rob pinch hitter, Jeremy Giambi of a double, the Yankees went on to the victory, and Rocket Clemens had his big win in Boston.
The Yanks remain in first place, now one game up on the Sox. They return home to the Bronx for a four-game set against the increasingly tough Toronto Blue Jays.
While Joe Torre offered words of encouragement for Jose Contreras after the Cuban got knocked around on Tuesday night in Boston, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre wasn’t as charitable. Jeff Weaver got an earful too:
Torre and Stottlemyre were both critical of the starter, Jeff Weaver, who has a 6.90 earned run average in his last five starts and was shelled on Tuesday. Weaver acknowledged that he was having major mechanical problems, but Stottlemyre said the issue was deeper. “We also have to change his thinking a little bit, whether he wants to be a power guy or a low-ball pitcher, which we think he’s suited for,” Stottlemyre said. “I think he’s a little bit in between. When he pitches high, he’s just another pitcher, another guy who frustrates himself making mistakes.”