Clemens, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, is off to another spectacular start. He has yielded one run or fewer in seven of his 10 outings, and ranks first in the majors with a 1.19 ERA.
However, the Rocket has not received much support from his teammates. The Astros have managed just 2.1 runs per game in his starts and have been shut out three times during that span, leaving Clemens with only three victories to show for his brilliant pitching.
Clemens left the Astros’ 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday after five scoreless innings due to his groin injury. The hard-throwing right-hander yielded two hits and struck out six while walking one.
“It’s more than a mild strain, but I know my body and I didn’t tear it,” Clemens said. “I’m OK. It’s iced down and numb and we’ll start treating it (Wednesday).”
Clemens came through Thursday’s side session with no problems, clearing the way for his start against the Reds—a team he has never lost to. Clemens is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four career outings against Cincinnati, including a 3-2 victory in his first start of the year on April 8.
The Astros did just enough to back up six shutout innings from Andy Pettitte on Sunday, beating Milwaukee 2-1 to win their first road series of the season.
Houston had only five hits but improved to 5-22 on the road by winning two of three from the Brewers. The Astros lost their first eight road series of the year.
Clemens will kick off a six-game homestand for last season’s NL wild card winners.
The Reds salvaged a split of their four-game series with Pittsburgh on Sunday, cruising to an 11-2 victory behind a homer and five RBIs from Ken Griffey Jr.
Cincinnati has won five of its last seven overall.
Griffey is 27-for-81 (.333) with six homers and 16 RBIs in his career against Clemens.