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Article:Roger Clemens' Great Return to Form

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by Harold Friend

Going into the game against the Red Sox, Roger Clemens was 11-6. In his second season with the New York Yankees, Roger had started slowly. He was placed on the disabled list on June 10 with a strained groin, returned on July 2, and then finally started pitching the way the Yankees had expected him to pitch. After coming off the disabled list, Roger Clemens was dominant.

A Roger Clemens-type Record

Roger started nine games, worked 56 1/3 innings, allowed only 43 hits, and struck out 47. In the nine games, Roger was 5-0 with a 2.24 ERA. Pretty good for a 38 year-old pitcher - or for a 24 year-old pitcher.

The Red Sox Game

On September 8, Roger started against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. At the start of play, the Yankees led the second-place BoSox by six games. The Red Sox didn't have a chance.

Roger Clemens' last pitch, in the eighth inning, was a 96 mile-an-hour fastball. He had completely overpowered Boston's hitters, shutting them out on five hits while striking out seven.

"A Locomotive"

Manager Joe Torre, who was more than pleased when he not only obtained Roger's services on February 18, 1999, but also got rid of David Wells, commented about Roger becoming the Roger Clemens of old. "He's been like a locomotive. He's gotten stronger and stronger."

The Fastball Returns

Clemens' fastball had returned. It was clocked as high as 98 mph, and was consistently between 95-96 mph. One baseball writer speculated that "Maybe there was a river of adrenaline rather than just a steady stream, for this was the first game in Boston since the Red Sox hammered him for five runs in two innings in a playoff game here last October."

Perhaps the writer attributed the wrong hormone or chemical as the reason Roger was once again Roger Clemens.

Undefeated

In his next start, Clemens faced another of his former teams, beating the Blue Jays handily. He was now 9-0 since coming off the disabled list on July 2.

"He's got this body language and attitude," said Joe Torre. "He goes out there and dares people to beat him."

A Remarkable Turn Around

What a remarkable turn around. In his first season with the Yankees, Roger was a pedestrian 14-10, with a 4.60 ERA and a 103 ERA+. In his games after coming off the disabled list, his ERA was 2.21.

Roger continued to pitch well, but on September 23, he was hit on the right thigh by a ground ball in the third inning. The Tigers knocked him out in the fifth, although the Yankees came back to win 13-8.

The Yankees struggled mightily in September, but managed to hang on to win the division with only 87 victories. They won the pennant, and met New York's other team in the World Series.

Memorable World Series

It was a memorable World Series, which many non-New York fans remember primarily as the World Series in which Roger Clemens tossed part of a broken bat in the direction of Mets' catching great, Mike Piazza. There is an excellent chance that Roger's rage was not due to an adrenaline rush.

References:

BUSTER OLNEY. (2000, August 12). Clemens's New Deal Is Most Unsual. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. D3. Retrieved August 7, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 360565122).

BUSTER OLNEY. (2000, September 9). Clemens Dismantles Red Sox With a Revitalized Fastball :YANKEES 4 RED SOX 0 Clements Dismantles Red Sox With Revitalized Fastball. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. D1. Retrieved August 7, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 360657662).

JACK CURRY. (2000, September 14). Clemens Stakes Claim As Yanks' No. 1 Starter :YANKEES 3 BLUE JAYS 2 INSIDE PITCH. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. D3. Retrieved August 7, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 360670802).


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