Monday, October 08, 2007

Clemens' Last Start?

After the Cleveland Indians took the first two games of the season at Jacobs Field earlier this week, the Yankees returned home yesterday to the house that Ruth built and the stadium that has seen so many come-from-behind victories this season.

The challenge was not easy - hold off elimination and save their manager’s job. The man they trusted the task to - Roger Clemens. The same man who back in May signed a pro-rated $28 million contract and from George Steinbrenner’s personal luxury box announced during the middle of a game that he was returning to New York to save the Yankees floundering season.

In the third inning with Cleveland winning 2-0, Roger was desperately trying to keep his team in the game. He allowed a leadoff single and faced the dangerous Victor Martinez. The season was on the line and there was a runner on first and the Rocket reared back and let loose a powerful fastball. Martinez swung and missed, but there was not much celebration coming from Clemens. It was his first strikeout of the night, but possibly the last pitch he will ever throw in the major leagues.

Before the game there were questions regarding Clemens’ health especially his groin, but leading up to it he consistently pronounced himself fit to play. As Martinez walked back to the dugout following the tough at bat against Clemens Joe Torre walked out to the mound.

Clemens stood, face downcast, on the mound as Torre walked out to take the ball from him, Alex Rodriguez gave him a pat on the backside and scattered boos gave way to loud cheering as fans realized this might be the last time they’d see the 354 game winner walk-off that mound. Clemens received pats on the back from teammates in the dugout as he quickly left the stadium never looking up and not once looking back.

The 44-year-old Clemens left the game with a strained left hamstring and the baby-faced 21-year-old Phil Hughes literally and figuratively took his place on the mound.

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