Clemens Fires Way to Strikeout Title
With three outs to go, Roger Clemens needed one more strikeout to lead the AL for the fourth time. Four pitches later, he got it.
“I just wish all the wins, all the strikeouts, would have been for a better cause,” Clemens said after the Blue Jays closed with a ninth-inning rally to beat Boston, 3-2, Sunday at Toronto. “But what a special way to finish the season.”
Clemens led the AL in victories (21), earned-run average (2.05) and strikeouts (a career-high 292), becoming the first to lead the AL in all three categories since Detroit’s Hal Newhouser in 1945. His eight strikeouts gave him one more than Seattle’s Randy Johnson, and Clemens immediately came out of the game.
“It was an emotional moment for me,” said Clemens, who left to a standing ovation from the 40,251 fans at SkyDome.
Clemens, who left trailing, 2-1, gave up seven hits in 8 1/3 innings and walked two. He struck out Reggie Jefferson in the fifth inning for his 291st, tying Johnson and matching his previous career high, set in 1988.
He also won AL strikeout titles in 1988, 1991 and 1996. It was his fifth ERA title, following 1986, 1990, 1991 and 1992.
Oakland 9, Seattle 7--Ken Griffey Jr. did not hit a home run, finishing with a league-high 56 as the AL West champion Mariners lost at Seattle.
Griffey went 1 for 2 with a walk and left for a pinch-runner after singling in the fifth inning. He hit .304 and led the majors with 147 RBIs.
Griffey, who finished with a career-best 185 hits, won his second AL homer title. Mark McGwire led the majors with 58, hitting 34 for Oakland and 24 for St. Louis.
Griffey (56) and Jay Buhner (40) became the third-highest pair of home run hitters on a team in a single season in history. Only Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle (115, 1961) and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (107, 1927) had more.
Griffey’s teammates also didn’t homer in the final game before 55,910 fans in the Kingdome, leaving the Mariners with their major league homer record of 264.
The Mariner bullpen blew its 27th save of the season--with Norm Charlton blowing his team-leading 11th--when Matt Stairs hit a grand slam in the seventh.
Jeff Fassero, who will pitch Game 3 in the playoffs for the Mariners, went five innings, giving up one run and two hits.
New York 7, Detroit 2--Hideki Irabu gave up two hits in five innings and Bernie Williams hit his 100th career home run as the Yankees won their fifth in a row heading into the playoffs.
Paul O’Neill and Williams hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning. Jorge Posada and Mike Stanley added solo homers for the Yankees.
Irabu (5-4) gave up a run with five strikeouts and no walks in his first start since Sept. 1, lowering his ERA to 7.09.
Dwight Gooden, looking for a spot in the Yankees’ postseason rotation, worked one inning of relief, giving up one unearned run and two hits.
Yankee Manager Joe Torre said he will announce his playoff rotation after a workout today.
Baltimore 7, Milwaukee 6--Mark Davis plunked Brady Anderson with the bases full and two out in the eighth inning, breaking a tie at Milwaukee.
Jerome Walton had the first multi-homer game of his seven-year career and drove in four runs as the Orioles finished an AL-best 98-64. They face the Mariners in the playoffs beginning Wednesday night.
Minnesota 5, Cleveland 1--In a rocky tuneup for the playoffs, Charles Nagy gave up five runs and nine hits in seven innings as the Indians lost at Cleveland.
Nagy (15-11), who will start Game 3 of the playoffs against the Yankees, gave gave up five hits to start the fifth and did not look sharp for the second consecutive start.
Chicago 4, Kansas City 3--The final at-bat for White Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen, whose 1998 option will not be exercised, came in the middle of the winning rally at Chicago.
Guillen, who was greeted with a standing ovation before each of his three at-bats, drew a walk in the seventh inning that loaded the bases, and left for a pinch-runner before Dave Martinez singled to give the White Sox the winning margin.
Albert Belle hit a two-run homer in the first, and finished his first season in Chicago with a .274 average, 30 homers and 116 RBIs. Last year, he hit .311 with 48 homers and 148 RBIs for the Indians.
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BESTS OF THE DAY BATTING
Player Team Performance Team’s Result Jerome Walton Baltimore 2 home runs, 4 RBIs Win Matt Stairs Oakland Grand slam, 2 for 3 Win Dave Martinez Chicago 2 for 3, Double, 1 RBI Win
Player Team Performance Team’s Result Roger Clemens Toronto 8 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 8 strikeouts Win Bob Tewksbury Minnesota 9 innings, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 6 strikeouts Win Jeff Fassero Seattle 5 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run Loss