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How will 4000 Go Into 300? II
2003-06-13 23:52
by Mike Carminati

So on the fourth try Roger Clemens gets his 300th win. It wasn't pretty. Clemens threw a lot of pitches and had to get out of a few jams, but there were a lot of positives, too. Here are some notes from the game:

- Clemens recorded his first six outs as strikeouts (though he allowed a Jim Edmonds homer and a Scotty Rolen double).

- The Cardinals had men in scoring position in each of the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings but scored just one of those men.

- I have to applaud the Yankees fans for giving Tino Martinez a standing ovation each time at bat. That's loyalty that you don't often see. The man helped their team win 4 World Series and they remember. It's a stark contrast to the reception Clemens got at Fenway given both left the respective team under similar circumstances.

- When Clemens was pulled after getting two fly balls in the seventh and leading 3-2, the fans at first booed Torre for the move, segued right into a standing ovation for Clemens as he left the mound, and then segued perfectly into an intense booing as Clemens disappeared in the dugout and Chris Hammond walked to the mound.

- J.D. Drew, the first man to face Hammond, wisely bunted down the third-base line to get on base. Shades of Ben Davis? The Yankee broadcasters didn't think much of the decision.

- After Pujols singled to move Drew into scoring position, the fans starting booing again. It seems that they were booing the last game, in which Clemens was pulled leading 1-0 with two men on and the since-departed Juan Acevedo coughed up a home run and the ballgame on his first pitch. Hammond got out of the inning and given the quality of the hits he allowed, the booing was misdirected.

- I am constantly amazed at how poor a jump Soriano and Jeter get on ground balls. There was a play early on (I think it was the Miguel Cairo single in the third), on which a decent-fielding shortstop should probably have made the play or at least been close to the ball. Jeter looked to be a few yards away from the ball. There was a play the other day in the 6-man no-hitter in which Soriano failed to cover first quickly enough on a bunt. It was a hard play and Jeff Weaver, who fielded the ball, was partial blocked by the batter running to first, but there was no chance on the play since Soriano lollygagged his way to the bag. Joe Torre seemed disgusted by it. I have heard many people, including Joe Morgan and the Yankee broadcasters, say that Soriano's defense has improved. He doesn't commit as many errors but he still fails to get to balls that he should. For two guys who are as quick as these two, their range is atrocious. It must be that they get poor jumps on the ball, what with all their speed. Isn't this something the Yankees coaching staff could be of assistance in? I know Willie Randolph worked with Soriano this off-season, but can't Soriano be instructed how to read counts, pitchers, and hitters to determine which direction the ball is likely to go at any given time. For goodness' sake, these are the two defensive players besides the battery that know what pitch is being called. How can they not use that information to their advantage?

- The Yankee broadcasters intimated that the win was doubly sweet for pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre because he was the losing pitcher the last time the two teams met, in the seventh game of the 1964 World Series. Do they really expect us to believe that Stottlemyre is trying avenge that loss almost forty years later? These guys will say any ridiculous statement that floats through the transom of their minds rather than pay attention to the game at hand (it's the Phil Rizzuto school of phone-it-in broadcasting).

- Juam Rivera is possibly the worst outfielder that I have seen since Lonnie "Skates" Smith threw a ball that landed behind his back (he was at least on cocaine at the time). This comes from a man who in his youth watched plenty of Greg "Bull" Luzinski lumbering around in left. Rivera does not look comfortable fielding any fly ball and his arm is a wreck. In the fourth with the Yankees up 2-1, no outs, and men at the corners, Rivera caught a fly ball that was clearly deep enough to score the tying run. A perfect throw, something Rivera's arm does not contain, may have gotten Rolen at the plate. However, Rolen is not especially fast but he is an excellent baserunner. Rivera uncorked a throw that went completely over the cutoff man's head and landed a third of the way up the third-base line. The Yanks were lucky Posada fielded it (the only advantage in Rivera's weak, arched throw). The run scored and the runner at first representing the go-ahead run moved into scoring position. It was such an amazingly bush play that it even made the Yankee broadcasters comment on something related to the actual game.

- The Yankee broadcasters--am I belaboring a point?--also said that winning three hundred was a greater feat than 4000 strikeouts. Why is it that only three men have done the latter then? I know that 300 wins is a magical total, but given that pitchers have little direct control over wins and losses, isn't a strikeout record a better personal record for a pitcher? Hell, either one is pretty darn impressive to me.

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