Roger Clemens became the major leagues’ first 20-game winner Saturday at Boston, but the hard-throwing right-hander is a cause of concern for the Red Sox.
After striking out 11 Cleveland Indians and giving up only four hits, Clemens (20-4) had to leave the game after seven innings with a blister on his right thumb.
Calvin Schiraldi got the last six outs, four on strikeouts, to complete the 7-3 victory that kept the Red Sox 3 1/2 games ahead of surging Toronto.
Wade Boggs, starting to pull away again in the batting race (.346), led the Red Sox attack on Phil Niekro (10-10) with three hits, including a two-run single in a four-run second inning. Tony Armas hit a three-run homer in the fifth to make it easy for Clemens.
“I’m happy to win 20, but we’re in a pennant race and there’s lots to be done,” Clemens told the Associated Press. “I threw the ball hard and I went right at them. But from the fourth inning on, the blister on my thumb was tough. It was stinging.”
The blister first appeared against Texas last Monday. He plans to have doctors examine the thumb but expects to pitch Friday against Minnesota. He threw only 102 pitches before giving way to his former University of Texas teammate, Schiraldi.
Actually, Clemens has been just a little better than a .500 pitcher after winning his first 14 decisions in a comeback from shoulder surgery performed a year ago Saturday.
Clemens won his 14th on June 27 against Baltimore. He has made 12 starts since then and has a 6-4 record. In one of the losses, he was thrown out in the fifth inning of a close game for bumping an umpire after disputing a call.
The Red Sox are optimistic that his last three starts are an indication he is regaining his best form. Counting this game, in which he did not give up a hit until the fifth, he has yielded only 10 hits in 24 innings of the three starts. He has allowed 6 earned runs and struck out 27 batters.
Toronto 8, Minnesota 1--Manny Lee is another good young baseball player from San Pedro de Macoris of the Dominican Republic who is ready to make his presence felt in the majors.
Lee, a 21-year-old infielder, has arrived just in time to give the Blue Jays’ pennant drive a lift. Lee, who didn’t play much, or too well, for the Blue Jays in his first try last season, was brought up from Syracuse three weeks ago when infielder Rance Mulliniks went on the disabled list.
Until Wednesday, Lee, who can play second, third or short, was being used for late-inning defensive help. But second baseman Damaso Garcia pulled up lame and Lee has started the last five games. The Blue Jays have won them all.
In this one at Toronto, Lee was the hitting star as the Blue Jays extended their winning streak to seven. Lee had three hits, including a triple, and drove in three runs to help Joe Johnson improve his record to 4-1. Johnson held the Twins to one run in 5 innings, then Bill Caudill and Dennis Lamp finished up in scoreless fashion.
Seattle 1-0, New York 0-3--Joe Niekro (9-9) gave up four hits in a five-inning appearance, and Don Mattingly hit his 25th homer as the Yankees won the second game for a split at Seattle.
Bill Swift pitched 7 hitless innings before giving up an infield single to Wayne Tolleson in the opener, and Jim Presley’s eighth-inning RBI single won it for the Mariners.
Swift (2-5) allowed two hits in 8 innings in the first game, struck out a career-high seven and walked four.
Yankee loser Tommy John (5-3) yielded eight hits in his first complete game of the season, struck out four and walked one.
Mattingly, who played third base in the first game, making an error but also starting a double play, returned to first base, his normal position, in the nightcap.
Texas 6, Chicago 2--One reason Manager Bobby Valentine likes the home run, he said, is that it eliminates baserunning mistakes.
In this game at Chicago, Pete O’Brien, rookie Ruben Sierra and Darrell Porter each hit home runs to give the Rangers 140 for the season, tying the club record set in 1979.
Bobby Witt (7-9) struck out 9 in 5 innings. He also uncorked his 20th wild pitch to move within one of the league record.
Before the home run barrage, the Rangers had three runners thrown out on the bases.
Kansas City 10, Milwaukee 1--In the absence of their best hitter, George Brett, who hurt his shoulder diving for a ball Friday night, the Royals still hammered out 14 hits to back Mike Gubicza’s seven-hit pitching.
Frank White singled in a run in the first, then doubled in two in the second to give Gubicza (8-6) a 6-0 lead.
Baltimore 5, Oakland 4--Odell Jones pitched one-hit ball and struck out six in 4 innings of relief at Oakland as the Orioles ended a seven-game losing streak. Mike Young celebrated his return from the minors by hitting a home run for the Orioles, who climbed out of the cellar in the East.