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Clemens returns to Boston, but he doesn't stick around

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Posted: Saturday October 16, 1999 09:57 PM

  Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens gets an earful from Red Sox fans after being pulled in the third inning. AP

BOSTON (AP) -- Can't win the big one, that's what they say here about Roger Clemens.

Couldn't win it during 11 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, can't win it now with the New York Yankees.

He has five Cy Young Awards, but no World Series rings, the only gem he says he ever really wanted.

From Clemens' very first batter Saturday, it was a party at Fenway Park, and he was the pinata as Red Sox fans celebrated a 13-1 victory that pulled them to 2-1 in the AL Championship Series.

"My emotions were under control," Clemens insisted, repeatedly saying this game was no different than any other. "I always want to pitch well. Makes no difference if it's here or there."

But some in the Yankees' clubhouse weren't so sure.

"He shuts things out, but I think the crowd may have affected him," Yankees pitching coach Mel Sottlemyre said.

They booed when Clemens warmed up in the bullpen, a passionate angry roar directed toward one of their own who had defected and joined their enemy.

They booed again when he walked out to the mound, already deep in shadows as brilliant autumn sunshine lighted up the old grandstands, filled with fans longing for their team's first World Series title since 1918.

"Rog-er, Rog-er" they sang again and again, a slow singsong designed to make sure he appreciated the magnitude of their disdain.

Clemens said he shut it out.

"Anytime you're in a visiting stadium, it's going to be loud, so you just get used to that," he said.

Boston's Nomar Garciaparra agreed.

"I don't think it got into his head," he said. "He's such a competitor."

Just two pitches in, the booing abruptly ended, replaced by chYankees' dugout on the third-base side, the fans started booing, wanting to leave him with the sound of their hate in his ears.

"No sense in using him all the way up," Torre said.

To fans, the 247-134 regular-season record and 3,316 strikeouts don't matter. They remember that he went 1-2 in nine postseason starts for Boston, and that new hero Pedro Martinez, who struck out 12 and allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings Saturday, already is 3-0 in his career during the playoffs.

"I've thrown the ball well in postseason play," Clemens said when asked about the disparity.

Seconds after they started booing Clemens again, what had happened suddenly struck them. They started cheering for Boston, a loud release that reverberated out to Kenmore Square and on to the Back Bay.

Clemens' line read: five runs, six hits, just two innings pitched. By the seventh inning, when the score reached 13-0, the chant had changed to, "Where is Roger?"

For once, Red Sox fans dreamed the dream and it came true.


 
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