Roger Clemens strikes out 20 again

September 18, 1996 ... For mere mortals, once in a lifetime would be more than enough. But Roger Clemens is on another plateau entirely. He has the stuff of legends. He can make the impossible come true.

In a magnificent performance, Clemens duplicated his 10-year-old major league record tonight when he struck out 20 Detroit Tigers in a 4-0 victory.

Rearing back for the glory of his flamethrowing youth, Clemens, 34, awakened the echoes of April 29, 1986, when he set the record for a nine-inning game by fanning 20 Seattle Mariners in a 3-1 Red Sox victory.

Tonight's strikeout performance made it a trifecta for Clemens. He tied the Red Sox career victory record of 192 held by Cy Young. It was his 38th shutout, tying Young for first on the club list in that department.

But Young couldn't have been any better than Clemens on this night. The big righthander from Texas threw 151 pitches, 101 for strikes. He didn't walk a batter while allowing four hits. And at the end, he had the tiny Tiger crowd of 8,779 cheering wildly for the record, even though it was against their team. As a bonus, when he got Travis Fryman to end it, Clemens had a piece of the record, his 100th complete game and his 67th double-figure strikeout game.

Some will argue that striking out 20 Tigers was like striking out 20 players from Triple A. But Clemens would beg to differ. He allowed four hits and no walks, the same dazzling control he showed in his first 20-strikeout game. He threw two-seam and four-seam fastballs, sliders and split-finger forkballs. The 1927 Yankees wouldn't have touched him. Clemens (10-12) was in a zone all night after being given a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning.

He struck out the side three times, in the second, fifth and sixth. Fryman was his most frequent victim, going down four times. Through eight innings, Clemens had 19 strikeouts. But the first three batters he faced in the ninth made contact, and it came down to Fryman. Alan Trammell popped to first leading off. Ruben Sierra followed with a single. Tony Clark, who had struck out three times, loomed as No. 20. But he flied to left.

That meant there was no realistic chance to break the record, but Clemens still could tie it. He did it by getting Fryman to chase a 2-2 pitch. At that point, he was mobbed by his teammates and gleefully embraced Haselman.

It was Rogers sixth victory in his last seven decisions as he seeks to salvage an otherwise disappointing season. Only he can go to the mound seeking consolation and come back with history.

 

OFFICIAL TIME
LONGINES

 

TIGER STADIUM

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

 

BOSTON RED SOX

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

1

0

 

 

DETROIT TIGERS

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

TIGERS

BALL STRIKE OUT

RED SOX

  R  

H

 

E

 

0

0

0

  R   H   E  
  0   5   1  

AT BAT

SP

  4   11   0  
             

00

00

             

W-Roger Clemens (10-12)
L-Justin Thompson (1-6)
Attendance 8779

2B-Pemberton (Bost)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Jeff Frye 2b 4 0 0 .293  

 

Nomr Garciaparra ss 3 0 0 .205  

 

Mo Vaughn 1b 5 0 1 .325  

 

Jose Canseco dh 5 0 1 .306  

 

John Valentin 3b 4 1 1 .296  

 

Mike Greenwell lf 4 1 2 .280  

 

Lee Tinsley cf 0 0 0 .220  

 

Rudy Pemberton rf 4 2 3 .421  

 

Bill Hasselman c 4 0 3 .272  

 

Darren Bragg cf/lf 3 0 0 .261  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  

 

Roger Clemens 9 5 0 0 20  

 

 

         

 

 

 

1996 A.L. EAST STANDINGS

 

 

New York Yankees 86 64 -

 

 

Baltimore Orioles 82 68 4

 

 

BOSTON RED SOX

68 73 8 1/2

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays 68 84 19

 

 

Detroit Tigers 51 101 36