Roger Clemens won’t be content with picking up his seventh Cy Young Award. He wants to get back to the playoffs—no matter what it takes.
Clemens, who went into and out of a brief retirement after finishing his five-year stint with the New York Yankees last October, has helped pitch Houston back into the playoff picture over the last two months.
With Tuesday’s 2-1 win, the Astros are now just a half-game out of the wild-card lead. Clemens deserves a lot of the credit for the team’s late-season resurgence.
The hard-throwing right-hander is 6-0 over his last nine starts, and is coming off perhaps his most impressive performance of the year. Clemens struck out a season-high 12 over 7 1-3 innings to help Houston to a 1-0, 10-inning victory at Milwaukee on Friday.
The future Hall of Famer was denied his 19th victory of the year, and 329th of his illustrious career, but did surpass 200 strikeouts for the 12th time.
Clemens has not yielded a run in either of his last two starts, and has surrendered just two over 29 1-3 innings in his last four outings. Though he is not scheduled to make another start before the end of the regular season, Clemens may not be done pitching after Wednesday.
He has indicated that if needed he will come out of the bullpen during Houston’s season-ending series against Colorado. Clemens has also said he will start Sunday’s regular season finale against the Rockies if the Astros are still in contention for the postseason.
“I’ve trained my body for such situations,” said Clemens, whose main competition for the Cy Young is teammate Roy Oswalt (19-10). “I wouldn’t be opposed to coming back and giving (manager Phil Garner) two or three innings the very next day if I had to.”
Clemens will have a tough task against St. Louis right-hander Jeff Suppan, who is enjoying a career year with 16 victories and is 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA in 13 road starts this season.
In Tuesday’s win, Jeff Bagwell drove in a pair of runs as Houston won its franchise record-tying 14th straight at home.
Houston, which has won five of six overall, won 14 straight at the Astrodome in 1980.
St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen went 0-for-3 in his return after missing 16 games with a strained upper left calf and bruised left shin.