July 3, 2007


Roger’s 350th win costly for Yankees


Photos by associated Press/Bill Kostroun
New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens reacts as he leaves the game after the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins Monday at Yankee Stadium in New York. Clemens got his 350th win as the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 5-1.

AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK — Roger Clemens had a stack of souvenirs from his 350th win sitting in his locker at Yankee Stadium. Jerseys, balls and other keepsakes, all ready to be autographed.
“I enjoy sharing it,” he said.
Still, what Clemens wanted most Monday night was a healthy Alex Rodriguez.
The Rocket reached a rare milestone with a vintage performance, pitching eight innings of two-hit ball and leading the New York Yankees to a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
But the Yankees’ excitement over his achievement was tempered by Rodriguez’s strained left hamstring, which forced the star slugger out of the game.
“It was not good, and that’s the downer of the night,” Clemens said. “We need him.”
Clemens became the first major leaguer to win 350 games since Hall of Famer Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves accomplished the feat by beating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 on Sept. 29, 1963 — just more than a year after Clemens was born. Yankees manager Joe Torre was Spahn’s catcher in that game.
“I’m not as old as I thought I was,” Clemens said with a wry smile.
Bobby Abreu hit a tiebreaking homer and finished with three hits for the Yankees, who won for only the third time in 12 games.
Rodriguez got his 80th RBI on a first-inning grounder, then left in the sixth after an awkward play at first base.
Rodriguez tripped over first baseman Justin Morneau’s ankle while beating out a potential double play. He remained in the game and advanced to second, but told third base coach Larry Bowa he wouldn’t be able to score on a single.
That’s when Torre pulled Rodriguez, who was limping slightly in the clubhouse after the game.
His leg was wrapped and he was scheduled for tests Tuesday. He said he didn’t know how bad the injury was.
“We’re going to sleep on it and see how it feels in the morning. Right now it’s just a little sore, tender,” Rodriguez said.
An extended absence for A-Rod would be a huge blow to the Yankees (38-41), struggling through a woeful season despite his big year at the plate. New York still hopes to fight its way back into the playoff race.
“Yeah, I’m concerned,” Torre said. “I just hope it’s not going to be a long-term thing.”
Miguel Cairo replaced Rodriguez. The last time he was on the disabled list was in July 2000 with Seattle, because of a right knee strain.
“That’s something we’re going to definitely try to avoid,” Rodriguez said.
In a turn-back-the-clock gem, Clemens (2-3) retired his final 15 batters after Joe Mauer’s leadoff double in the fourth. With his wife, Debbie, in attendance, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner struck out four and walked one in the longest outing of his latest comeback this season.
He pumped his fist after striking out his last hitter and walked off the mound to a loud ovation from the crowd of 53,036 as Elton John’s “Rocket Man” played over the loudspeakers.
Clemens, who will turn 45 next month, is 350-181 for a .659 winning percentage — second among pitchers with 350 wins to Christy Mathewson’s .665 mark.
“I’ll probably look at the history at another time,” Clemens said. “This is no time for me to take a breath. For me, this is a tremendous amount of work.”
Can he get to 400 wins?
“I don’t see that happening,” Clemens said.
Then again, he didn’t expect to approach 350 when he first retired after the 2003 season with 310 victories.
The Rocket lost his previous three starts after winning his season debut against Pittsburgh. He even failed to strike out a batter in his most recent outing, a 4-0 loss at Baltimore.
That ended a streak of 200 consecutive starts with at least one strikeout.
This time, Clemens outpitched Minnesota’s Boof Bonser (5-5), who fell to 0-3 in four starts since beating Washington on June 10. It was his second loss to the Yankees this year.
All-Star Torii Hunter struck out once and grounded out twice against Clemens, leaving him 0-for-25 with 14 strikeouts in his career against the right-hander.
“His split was moving like crazy. It was like it wasn’t even real,” Hunter said.
“He releases it like a fastball and you can’t really tell. Some guys can — but not me.”
Clemens, eighth on the career wins list, threw 67 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
After closer Mariano Rivera got the final three outs, the scoreboard flashed congratulations to Clemens.
Abreu connected in the sixth, and Derek Jeter bounced a two-run single under the glove of third baseman Jeff Cirillo to make it 5-1.



Rockies’ Hirsh left hobbled beating Mets

AP Sports Writer

DENVER — Right-hander Jason Hirsh was a scary sight on the mound and on the bases Monday night.
Hirsh threw six shutout innings but left Colorado’s 6-2 win over the New York Mets after spraining his right ankle at third base while trying to avoid a pick-off throw from the catcher.
“I’ve never been on third base, it’s kind of far away from the dugout,” Hirsh said. “I was taking my lead. I didn’t think I was really dancing around or doing anything kind of fancy out there. It’s just when (Tom) Glavine wound up, I took the lead and when he threw the pitch I got back.”
He beat the throw but his night was over.
“I remember hitting the bag and then I remember just falling over. I have to go back and look at the super slow-mo, but I heard it was fairly disgusting,” Hirsh said.
Hirsh said the team doctor told him he avoided a more serious injury because he already had that ankle taped because of tendinitis from the way he drags the leg in his follow-through.
A hobbled Hirsh said he expected to be OK in a couple of days but with the All-Star break coming up, the Rockies can afford to skip his next start as a precaution and give him more than a week’s rest.
Hirsh gave the Rockies more than they could have hoped for both on the mound and at the plate, where he collected the first two-hit game of his career and drove in two runs, the first RBIs of his career.
Coming off a 1-9 trip, their worst ever for that many games away from home, the Rockies celebrated their return to Coors Field by winning for the 10th time in their last 12 games at home.
Led by Matt Holliday’s three-run homer, they scored six times in the third off Glavine (7-6), who was denied his 298th career win, and the lanky right-hander Hirsh (4-7) capitalized on the early lead to throttle the Mets, who had won eight of 10.
Hirsh allowed three hits, walked one and struck out two in a strong bid to keep his spot in the rotation.
“That was excellent. That was nothing but top-shelf stuff,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “That’s a good lineup. He got outs with his fastball. He was able to get it where he wanted it. That was his centerpiece. The breaking ball and changeup came into play at the right times. Great game plan. He controlled bat speed the entire time he was out there.”
Hirsh, who said his pitches were moving better than they had all year, added two singles, including a two-run chopper down the right-field line in the third, when Glavine labored through a 38-pitch inning in which he allowed six hits.
“The pitcher had one hit all year or something like that, finds a hole right down the first base line which obviously didn’t help any,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said.
While his first hit hurt the Mets, Hirsh’s second hit ultimately pained the Rockies.
“Before I went to that at-bat, Clint told me, ‘Either strike out or hit a home run. Don’t do anything stupid,”’ recounted Hirsh, who instead legged out an infield single off Glavine to start the sixth.
He was sacrificed to second, took third on a single and then he got hurt.
“I know the bullpen really needed a night off and I really felt like I had good enough stuff where I could have gone eight or nine innings,” Hirsh said. “And I think I was more upset that I wasn’t going to be able to stay in the game and continue pitching than I was about rolling the ankle.”
Glavine tied his season high with five walks to go with three strikeouts in six innings. He allowed nine hits.
Holliday, who received the most votes in the players’ All-Star balloting, followed singles by Willy Taveras and Jamey Carroll by sending an inside 3-2 fastball from Glavine 415 feet into the middle of the left-field seats for his 14th homer that gave Colorado a 3-0 lead.
“I guess the pitch to him stands out. It was the difference-maker,” Glavine said. “I’m still not convinced it was that bad a pitch.”
Brad Hawpe followed with an RBI single and, after Chris Iannetta was intentionally walked to load the bases, Hirsh chopped a two-run single down the right-field line just out of first baseman Carlos Delgado’s reach to make it 6-0. It was his second hit and first RBIs of his career.
The Mets scored twice off Jorge Julio in he eighth. Ruben Gotay singled and Jose Reyes doubled with nobody out. Gotay scored on a wild pitch and Reyes came across on Carlos Beltran’s groundout.
Notes: LHP Oliver Perez will be eligible to return to the Mets for their first game after the All-Star break. He was placed on the 15-day DL Monday retroactive to June 27 because of persistent lower back stiffness. The Mets recalled LHP Jason Vargas, who will start against the Rockies on Tuesday night. ... At 95 degrees, this was the second-hottest night game in Coors Field history, two degrees cooler than it was on July 1, 2002.




Brown will stay busy this summer

Staff Writer

Jesse Brown is about to embark on an impressive series of hockey experiences.
The 17-year-old high school senior-to-be from Cortland will take part in the Select 17 Festival starting on Saturday in Rochester. A national squad will be selected from that event to take part in an international tournament in Europe later in the summer. Brown also could take part in the Empire State Games in late August in Westchester County, having made the Central Scholastic squad for the second year in a row.
Then, in mid-August, he’ll head to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he will take part in the training camp of the Tier One Junior A United States Hockey League’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
Cedar Rapids drafted Brown in May as its second pick (third round, 34th overall) in the entry draft held by the USHL, the top junior league in the country.
Brown was a member of the Cortland-Homer Golden Eagles during his eighth-grade and freshman seasons. He tied for third on the team in scoring as an eighth-grader with six goals and eight assists for 14 points, and was second as a freshman with 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points.
For the past two winters, Brown has played right wing for Syracuse Stars squads, at the Junior B level two winters ago (33 goals and 38 assists for 71 points) and Junior A last winter (20-17-37 in 42 games). He made the RoughRiders’ preliminary 30-man squad during a tryout camp June 1-3, and after surviving Sunday’s mandatory cut-down to 25 players will attempt to make the final roster at training camp. If he does, he’ll stay with a local family in Cedar Rapids and attend John F. Kennedy High School there for the duration of the season, which, including playoffs, could stretch into mid-May of next year.
Nine of the 30 players currently on the RoughRider roster are holdovers from last season’s squad, which was second in the league’s six-team East Division with a 37-18-5 record and was eliminated in the second round (quarterfinals) of the playoffs.
“I’m really happy to get the opportunity to go and play there,” Brown said. “It’s a real good league, the best (junior league, for 16- to 20-year-olds) in the U.S. The team is going to be real good this season and the coaching staff is good. I got a couple calls from teams in the league after the Select 16 Festival last summer.
“Ninety percent of the guys from the league go to Division 1 schools, so it’s the best place to get looks from those programs, to get more exposure,” said Brown, who wants to major in business management in college and is currently most interested in (and attracting interest from, among others) Colgate, Cornell, Clarkson and Niagara.
Another Stars player, right wing Justin Bruckel from Geneseo, also made the RoughRiders’ 25-man training camp squad, and Brown noted that “Justin is a good friend, and having him out there will make it easier for me, and easier to make new friends.”
“Jesse’s a good-sized guy with good skills,” said Roughriders coach/general manager Mark Carlson, who has held those positions with the team since its inception in 1999 and first saw Brown during yet another Showcase event in Chicago in April. “He’s a good passer and has shown the ability to score a lot of goals. I thought he did fine during our training camp.
“I believe that our league is the top developmental league in North America. Every year our team sends 15 players to Division I college programs on scholarships, and two or three are selected in the NHL draft. League-wide, 25 or 26 players are picked in every NHL draft.”
One current Roughrider and one alumnus of the team were taken in this year’s NHL draft —the 10th and 11th Cedar Rapids products to be drafted since the team arrived in the city in 1999 — while a total of 26 USHL players were selected, along with six players who were taken in this year’s USHL draft and nine players who were on the 2006-07 USHL Futures List.
In addition, a total of 164 USHL players, including 14 from Cedar Rapids, will be moving on to Division I college programs this fall.
In assessing his own talents, Brown said that “My hands, my shot and my size (6-3½, 200 pounds) are my strengths. The areas I need to work on most are my defensive zone play and speed.”