Roger Clemens

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Roger Clemens : biography

August 4, 1962 –

The end of Clemens’ 2003 season became a series of public farewells met with appreciative cheering. His last games in each AL park were given extra attention, particularly his final regular season appearance in Fenway Park, when despite wearing the uniform of the hated arch rival, he was afforded a standing ovation by Red Sox fans as he left the field. (This spectacle was repeated when the Yankees ended up playing the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS and Clemens got a second "final start" in his original stadium.) As part of a tradition of manager Joe Torre, Clemens was chosen to manage the Yankees’ last game of the regular season. Clemens made one start in the World Series against the Florida Marlins; when he left trailing 3–1 after seven innings, the Marlins left their dugout to give him a standing ovation.

Houston Astros (2004–06)

Clemens chose to come out of retirement, signing a one-year deal with his adopted hometown Houston Astros on January 12, , joining close friend and former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte. On May 5, , Clemens recorded his 4,137th career strikeout to place him second on the all-time list behind Nolan Ryan. He was named the starter for the National League All-Star team but ultimately was the losing pitcher in that game after allowing six runs on five hits including a three run home run to Alfonso Soriano. Clemens finished the season with 4,317 career strikeouts, and his 18–4 record gave him a career record of 328–164. After the season, he won his seventh Cy Young Award, extending his record number of awards. He became the oldest player ever to win this award, at age 42. This made him one of five pitchers to win the award in both leagues, joining Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martínez, and Randy Johnson and later joined by Roy Halladay. In Houston, Clemens wore # 22, his number with the Yankees, partly because Pettitte had chosen # 21, in Clemens’ honor.

Clemens again decided to put off retirement before the season after the Houston Astros offered salary arbitration. The Astros submitted an offer of $13.5 million, and Clemens countered with a record $22 million demand. On January 21, 2005, both sides agreed on a one-year, $18,000,022 contract, thus avoiding arbitration. The deal gave Clemens the highest yearly salary earned by a pitcher in MLB history. It also made him the sixth-highest paid player in baseball that year.

Clemens’ 2005 season ended as one of the finest he had ever posted. His 1.87 ERA was the lowest in the major leagues, the lowest of his 22-season career, and the lowest by any National Leaguer since Greg Maddux in 1995. He finished with a lackluster 13–8 record, primarily due to the fact that he ranked near 30th in run support. The Astros scored an average of only 3.5 runs per game in games in which he was the pitcher of record. The Astros were shut out nine times in Clemens’ 32 starts, and failed to score in a 10th until after Clemens was out of the game. The Astros lost five Clemens starts by scores of 1–0. In April, Clemens did not allow a run in three consecutive starts. However, the Astros lost all three of those starts by a 1–0 score in extra innings.

He has the second most career wins (behind Maddux) of any right-handed pitcher of the live-ball era. On April 8, , Clemens won his first start of the season against the Cincinnati Reds, which tied him with Steve Carlton for second in wins for live-ball pitchers, and first among pitchers whose career began after World War II. However, it took him a month to surpass Carlton, as he had low run support in a string of five starts that produced one loss and four no-decisions. On May 9, he got his second win of the season against the Florida Marlins, giving him 330 for his career. Only Greg Maddux and left-hander Warren Spahn are ahead of Clemens in wins among live-ball pitchers. Passing Carlton also gave Clemens more wins at the time than any pitcher alive.

Clemens won an emotional start on September 15, following his mother’s death that morning. In his final start of the 2005 season, Clemens got his 4,500th strikeout. On October 9, 2005, Clemens made his first relief appearance since 1984, entering as a pinch hitter in the 15th, then pitching three innings to help the Astros defeat the Atlanta Braves in the longest postseason game in MLB history. The game ran 18 innings, and Clemens picked up the win.