Clemens will try to last longer as the New York Yankees continue a four-game series against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
In the final season of his 20-year career in the majors, Clemens gave up nine hits in four innings and left trailing 5-0 before the Yankees’ rally fell short in a 5-3 loss.
“My arm felt really heavy,” he said. “It’s not the first time that’s happened to me in my career. It’s happened many times. but it makes it difficult to get command of your pitches.”
He dropped to 20-12 against the Orioles as he fell behind just four batters in. Melvin Mora was hit on the rear end with two outs and Jeff Conine, just 5-for-28 (.179) against Clemens coming in, homered on the next pitch.
Clemens has bounced back since, allowing just four runs in the last 22 innings—winning starts against Anaheim and Texas before failing to get a decision against Seattle on Sunday.
The Yankees will be looking to win consecutive games after losing four of five—including their worst loss of the season—11-0 at Kansas City on Wednesday.
New York rallied to win this series’ opener, 8-5 on Thursday as Hideki Matsui drove in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning, then preserved the lead with a sensational catch.
After his sacrifice fly capped a three-run rally that gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead in the top of the inning, Matsui robbed Larry Bigbie with a running, backhanded stab of an opposite-field liner near the left-field wall with two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh.
“When it was hit, I had the feeling I could catch up to it,” Matsui said. “But then the ball started spinning farther away from me.”
Matsui’s heroics made a winner of Andy Pettitte, who allowed five runs and 11 hits in six-plus innings. The left-hander improved to 17-4 lifetime against Baltimore, including 11-2 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles have lost four straight, after a stretch in which they won four of five.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Orioles - 4th place, 15 1/2 GB, AL East.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Clemens (11-7, 3.68 ERA). After his last start against the Orioles, Clemens pitched a five-hitter in a 9-0 win at Anaheim on July 30. He followed that up by limiting Texas to one run and five hits in seven innings of a 6-2 win on Aug. 5. In his last start, Clemens allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings of the Yankees’ 8-6 loss to Seattle.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Johnson (10-5, 3.83 ERA). The 29-year-old right-hander will be looking to win three straight starts for the first time since April. Johnson allowed three earned runs and 11 hits in 12 innings in wins against Minnesota and Boston.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Derek Jeter, .321 avg.; Jason Giambi, 34 HRs and 92 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 84 runs and 28 SBs. Orioles - Mora, .325 avg.; Tony Batista, 21 HRs; Jay Gibbons, 82 RBIs; Conine, 69 runs; Brian Roberts, 18 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - RHP Clemens will be looking for his first win agains the Orioles since July 4, 2001. He is 0-3 against them in five starts since. … 3B Aaron Boone went 0-for-4 with a walk and is 6-for-48 (.125) in 13 games since being acquired in a trade with Cincinnati. Orioles - 1B Conine missed his sixth straight game Thursday due to bursitis in his right biceps. … Baltimore has lost 11 of its last 13 against New York. … Johnson is 1-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 appearances—including nine starts—against the Yankees.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 39-23 on the road; Orioles - 31-28 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Gabe White (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL. Orioles - 1B/DH David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Mora (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (knee), 60-day DL; 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL.
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