23 June 2006

DPD: Roger Clemens First Game of 2006: A Running Blog Commentary

Roger Clemens returned to Major League Baseball tonight. The Houston Astros, and really, the rest of the baseball-loving world, will once again be blessed by The Rocket's presence.

Well, I guess the blessing remains to be seen, as nobody really knows how well he'll do. His three minor league "tune-up" starts have been a mixed bag. After allowing only five hits, no walks and one run, striking out 17 batters in nine combined Single-A and Double A innings, Clemens allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in 5.2 innings at Triple-A. And that was against the last-place New Orleans Zephyrs, an affiliate of the Nationals. The Zephyrs have the 4th worst team OPS in the 16-team PCL, though they're ranked slightly higher in runs scored. It will be nice to see him do well, but we may be hoping for too much there.

On the other hand, he could hardly have drawn a better assignment for his first major league start. He's got 23 career wins against Minnesota, and they're among the worst-hitting teams in the majors this season, in the bottom third among all MLB teams in runs scored overall, runs scored on the road, and runs scored in the month of June. Should be fun watching him compete with Liriano, an upcoming stud in his own right, who's nearly 21 years his junior.

Let's see how this goes:

8:14 PM
Clemens' first pitch of the evening sails in at 91 mph for an easy strike. Minnesota 2B Luis Castillo lets the next two pass wide for balls before slapping another 91 mph fastball back up the middle. His bouncer nearly gts over Clemens' head but Roger stops it. Unfortunately, the ball slips out of his glove and he can't make a play, so Castillo is safe on an error. Eight months we had to wait for Rocket to get back to the majors, and his first play is an error. Oh well.

8:16 PM
Well, that was over quickly. Despite the error, Clemens induced a ground ball double play by Twins LF Jason Kubel. I guess the defensive miscue didn't rattle him. He then struck out AL batting leader C Joe Mauer on four pitches.

8:28 PM
Clemens first pitch to Twins 1B Justin Morneau sails wide for a ball, but hits 92 mph, the fastest he's thrown so far. Morneau eventually hits a 2-1 splitter (87 mph) to right for a clean double, the first hit of the ballgame for Minnesota. There goes the no-no. Torii Hunter leaves him stranded by popping up an 0-2 pitch to center field.

Read the rest at Double Play Depth...

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