Future Hall-of-Famer Roger Clemens will make the final regular season start of his 20-year career as he tries to help the playoff-bound New York Yankees get their 100th win of the season when they continue their three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Though Clemens has hinted that he might be interested in pitching for the United States at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, he has promised that this season will be his last in the majors.
“I know I can still do it. But I’ve done it,” he said. “I’ve touched everything I wanted to hit on. I’m just excited about the opportunity to get back to the postseason one more time before this all comes to a close. I’m at peace with it, because I didn’t leave anything behind.”
This could also be Clemens’ last appearance at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander is scheduled to pitch Game 3 of the Yankees’ first round playoff series at Minnesota.
“My heart is going to be sad, but I’ll be happy, too,” Clemens said. “At this point, it’s hard to be sad. We’ve bought a couple of extra weeks.”
Clemens, who won his 300th game and earned his 4,000th strikeout on June 13, will finish third on the all-time strikeouts list behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Steve Carlton (4,136).
He needs 13 strikeouts to reach 200 for the 12th time in his career.
However, the nine-time All-Star is more concerned with the playoffs than he is with milestones.
“If I have to throw 150 pitches in five or six innings, I’ll do that,” he said. “That’s the way I approached Game 1 last year against Anaheim. If I have to throw a bunch of pitches to be stingy, that’s the way it is.”
The Yankees split a doubleheader with the Orioles Friday, winning 11-2 in the first game and losing 3-2 in 10 innings in the second.
Jorge Posada hit his 30th homer in the first game, tying Yogi Berra’s Yankees record for a catcher. Rookie pitcher Jorge De Paula, making his first career start, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in the second game for the Yankees, who have won five of their last eight.
Jerry Hairston hit the game-tying triple, and rookie Robert Machado hit the game-winning single in the second game for the Orioles, who have won just two of their last seven.
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 28 GB, AL East. Yankees - 1st place, AL East.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Johnson (10-9, 4.05 ERA). Johnson gave up six runs, five earned, and seven hits in five innings of Monday’s 7-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox—his fourth straight defeat. The right-hander is 1-7 with a 3.93 ERA in 12 career appearances, including 11 starts, against the Yankees.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Clemens (16-9, 3.94 ERA). Clemens gave up just four hits in seven innings of Sunday’s 6-0 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays— his third straight victory and seventh in nine decisions. He is 21-12 with a 3.45 ERA in 48 career starts against the Orioles.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Jay Gibbons, .277 avg., 100 RBIs and 80 runs; Tony Batista, 26 HRs; Brian Roberts, 23 SBs. Yankees - Derek Jeter, .322 avg.; Jason Giambi, 41 HRs and 107 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 113 runs and 34 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 11-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - RHP Jorge Julio earned his career-high 36th save Friday. … OF Gibbons became the 15th player in team history to reach 100 RBIs. 3B Batista has 99. … RHP Johnson is 4-4 with a 4.39 ERA in 15 starts on the road this season. Yankees - SS Jeter has been hit by a pitch a career-high 13 times. … The Yankees have 227 home runs this season, second-most in team history behind ’61 team, which had 240. … Reserve OF David Dellucci, who has been out with a sprained ankle for almost a month, said it felt OK after he tested it in pregame drills. The Yankees may activate him this weekend to give him a pre-playoff test.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 31-49 on the road; Yankees - 48-32 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - INF David Segui (wrist), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (elbow), 60-day DL. Yankees - OF Dellucci (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL.