Their losing streak is over, and now the New York Yankees have a seven-time Cy Young Award winner back in the rotation.
Andy Pettitte threw eight strong innings and Jason Giambi homered twice Friday as the Yankees beat Detroit 6-1 to end a three-game losing streak. New York (68-54), which had won 12 of 14 before the slide, moved within five games of first-place Boston in the AL East and remained a half-game behind Seattle for the wild card.
Clemens (4-5, 4.00 ERA) will try to help New York’s postseason chase as he takes the mound for the first time since his suspension for hitting Toronto’s Alex Rios with a pitch in his last start on Aug. 7. The 45-year-old right-hander, who declined to appeal the suspension, seemed to be retaliating after teammate Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch earlier in the game.
“The fact is that he wasn’t trying to camouflage it and say, ‘I didn’t mean it,’” Torre told the Yankees’ official Web site of Clemens’ decision not to appeal. “He went about his business.”
Torre, who was suspended for one game, skipped Clemens’ last start to give him 10 days’ rest between starts.
“It’s not going to hurt him,” said Torre, who earned his 2,041st managerial win Friday to pass Walter Alston for sole possession of eighth place.
Still, the Yankees must be curious to see how Clemens will fare. Lost in the excitement over his suspension was the fact Clemens earned his 352nd career win, allowing one run and two hits in six innings of a 9-2 victory.
He was pounded for eight runs - three earned - in 1 2-3 innings five days earlier against the Chicago White Sox in his shortest start since June 14, 2000, during his first stint with the Yankees. Clemens said he adjusted his delivery after watching video of it.
“I think I’ve just come to know it’s going to be this way all the way through,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t be back here if I didn’t think that would be the case.”
Clemens is 25-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 46 career starts against the Tigers. He hasn’t faced them since June 27 of last season while with Houston, giving up two runs—one earned—and three hits in 6 1-3 innings in a 4-0 defeat.
That was his first appearance versus Detroit since 2003. He’s 14-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 21 starts against the Tigers since the start of the 1996 season.
The Tigers (67-55) fell out of first place in the AL Central on Friday, dropping a half-game behind Cleveland. They have lost 17 of 25 and tried a roster shakeup before the game, calling up Cameron Maybin while cutting slumping outfielder Craig Monroe - a key member of their AL championship team last season.
The 20-year-old Maybin, with only six games of experience at Double-A, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his major league debut. Maybin, considered one of the best prospects in baseball, played in left field, though he normally plays center.
“Obviously, he had a tough debut,” said manager Jim Leyland, who plans to give Maybin a shot to play regularly. “He’s very talented. The tiers on the stadium, it’s tougher to pick up the ball. He’s going to be fine. He’ll play tomorrow. I think he was probably a little anxious.”
Gary Sheffield went 0-for-4, and is hitless in seven at-bats in his first series back at Yankee Stadium since New York traded him to Detroit in the offseason. He was booed even louder Friday than in Thursday’s series opener.
On Saturday, the Tigers will hand the ball to Chad Durbin (7-5, 4.68), who is making his 17th start of the season and third since a stint in the bullpen. He has lost both of his starts since rejoining the rotation and gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings of Monday’s 7-2 defeat to Oakland.
“Durbin’s control wasn’t good and he hung a couple of breaking balls,” Leyland said.
Durbin’s only previous start against the Yankees came on April 16, 2000 while he was with Kansas City. He gave up four runs in six innings without getting the decision in the Royals’ 8-4 loss at Yankee Stadium.