Roger Clemens gets his 20th win and 200 Ks
ON THIS DATE (August 30, 1986) ... Roger Clemens, the tall gunslinger from Katy, Texas, who terrorized opponents and delighted audiences from coast to coast, was an event savored by friends and foe alike, an athletic marvel lacking only the background tones of Vangelis.
Roger Clemens won his 20th game of the season and struck out his 200th batter. There are no other individual milestones for the event to reach. Twenty wins and 200 strikeouts are the yardsticks of excellence. So from now on, he becomes the man.
The season sabotaged by injury last year was followed by one in which he unveiled one unlikely deed after another. Every fortune cookie predicted a new method of success. The imagination was exploded one quiet night in April, when Clemens became the first man in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game. Heads then shook when he pitched three perfect innings in the All-Star Show and was selected the game's Most Valuable Player.
Artful Roger had come back to this museum-piece ballpark to win that special game before his first and truest audience. The Cleveland Indians had been the only team not to fall under his spell this year; that task too had to be completed.
The day was not flawless. It began with familiar "K" placards being sold on Yawkey Way to benefit the Jimmy Fund. It began with Clemens arriving wearing a frothy ensemble of pink shirt and white pants. It began with Oil Can Boyd saying, "Hey, Tex, have a good one."
In glorious hindsight, Clemens' contribution to the Red Sox' 7-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians was almost routine. Seven innings of work, three runs, one walk and 11 strikeouts. It was his seventh outing this season in which he has struck out at least 10. He became only the 23d Red Sox pitcher to reach that plateau and the first pitcher in the majors to do it this year. It was yet another milestone in the career of the talented Texan.
En route to boosting his record to 20-4, Clemens became the first American League pitcher this season to climb past the 200-strikeout plateau. In fanning 11, he ran his season total to 207, putting him fifth on the all-time Red Sox season list. Clemens' victory made him the first 20-game winner for Boston since Dennis Eckersley in 1978. He also became the fifth Red Sox pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts; the Sox' season record is 258, by Smoky Joe Wood in 1912.
After Clemens left because of the blister. Even in that final frame, however, he struck out three men; this game would close with an authoritative Clemens signature. Calvin Schiraldi completed the demolition by striking out four of the six men he faced.
It began, in short, as the summer we will remember with the K cards, the casual Texas outfit, the Can's yin to Clemens' yang. And the game began with the Roger we will remember, striking out three men in the second and two men in the third. In one stretch from the fourth to the fifth inning, he threw 15 consecutive strikes
As the proceedings wound to a halt and Clemens left the game behind him, he acknowledged the importance of his enraptured Fenway audience.