The Marlins won’t likely do it again when they face Clemens and Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
During Game 4 of the World Series against the New York Yankees last October, the Marlins applauded as Clemens walked off the mound after striking out Luis Castillo to end the seventh inning, thinking it was his final major league pitch.
Florida eventually won that game in 12 innings, and the World Series in six games. It’s also turned out to be the last start that Clemens didn’t win.
Clemens gave every indication he was going to retire following the season, but instead followed former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte to their hometown Astros.
So far, The Rocket has been perfect in his first year in the National League, winning his first six starts and posting a 2.18 ERA.
In his last game, Clemens moved into second place on the career strikeouts list behind fellow Houston-area native Nolan Ryan as he pitched the Astros past Pittsburgh 6-2 on Wednesday.
Clemens passed Steve Carlton and finished the night with nine strikeouts to run his career total to 4,140.
“I think what (Ryan) did was amazing,” Clemens said. “Obviously, I won’t make it that long.”
He also won his 316th game, putting him two behind Phil Niekro for 14th place.
”(Clemens) is one of those rare cats to pitch as long as he has and put up all those crooked numbers,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said.
Houston is coming off a 2-1 win over Atlanta on Sunday, the Astros’ ninth win in 11 games.
Orlando Palmeiro drove in the tiebreaking run with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning to help Pettitte win a pitching duel with the Braves’ Russ Ortiz. Pettitte won his third straight start since coming off the disabled list, limiting Atlanta to one run and two hits in six innings.
The Marlins beat the Padres 7-4 on Sunday for just their third win in nine games. Miguel Cabrera, moved down one spot to No. 4 in the lineup for the first time this season, hit his league-leading 11th home run.
“The RBIs are important. It doesn’t matter if I bat third, fourth or fifth,” said Cabrera, who was fifth in the order Saturday after hitting third in every other game this season. “I just go out and do my job.”
The homer, Cabrera’s second in two days, was a three-run shot in the second inning that gave the Marlins a 6-1 lead. Josh Beckett allowed one run and five hits in six innings for his second win in three starts.