Roger Clemens has made winning 329 career games look easy. However, winning No. 330 has been a struggle.
The Astros have struggled to a sluggish 11-19 start, and nobody knows it more than Clemens, who has been denied in five straight bids to win his 330th game, remaining tied with Steve Carlton for ninth place on the career list.
“The only upsetting thing is our team is not getting wins,” said Clemens, who has a 1.29 ERA. “I’ve got enough wins beside my name.”
Closer Brad Lidge gave up ninth inning home runs to Daryle Ward and Jason Bay as the Astros’ bullpen blew another win for Clemens in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last start on Wednesday.
Clemens remained winless since April 8, mostly because Houston doesn’t score when he pitches. The Astros have managed only nine runs in Clemens’ six starts — and he drove in two of them himself in his only win.
“We haven’t scored enough runs for him. I don’t know why,” shortstop Adam Everett said. “It’s just one of those things right now. We can’t seem to pull them across when he’s pitching.”
The Astros, who have lost six straight and 11 of 15, have struggled to score runs even when Clemens isn’t pitching. Houston was held to two hits in Sunday’s 16-0 rout by the Atlanta Braves.
“I’m hoping this is as bad as it gets,” Astros manager Phil Garner said.
Things could get worst if Houston struggles to score runs against Marlins starter A.J. Burnett on Monday.
Burnett, who has a 2.27 ERA, has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his six starts and has two complete games to his credit already.
Like Clemens, Burnett is one of the hardest throwers in baseball with opponents hitting just .239 against him.
“I hope we’re at our A game,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “And they had better be at theirs, too.”
The Marlins bolstered their record by taking two of three from the Colorado Rockies over the weekend.
Al Leiter gave up eight runs in four innings as Florida dropped the Sunday’s game to the Rockies 8-3.