Clemens looks ready for a few innings

By wire services
Published March 29, 2005

LAKELAND - He looked like the Roger Clemens of old for the first four innings Monday. Then, he just looked old.

Clemens, 42, seemed dominant as ever through four innings against Detroit, scattering four hits. But the Tigers broke through for three runs after the Astros right-hander tired in the fifth and four more in the sixth.

Clemens got a standing ovation from the fans at Joker Marchant Stadium as he left after completing six innings, trailing 7-6. He allowed 12 hits, two of them homers, while walking one and striking out seven.

The Astros won 14-11 in 10 innings.

Clemens started for the third time this spring but the first since March 18, when he left a game against Detroit with a strained right hamstring. Clemens, who won his seventh Cy Young Award last season, threw 90 pitches in a simulated game Thursday in Kissimmee.

"I wanted to get out of here with less ice bags than last time," Clemens said. "I've only got four on now. Last time it was five."

Astros manager Phil Garner had intended to keep Clemens on a 90-pitch count, but it didn't quite work out.

"I went out to the mound at 94 and he said he wanted to keep going," Garner said. "I frankly thought his 99th pitch was his best."

Clemens finished at 109 pitches, 70 for strikes.

"The hamstring was free and loose," Clemens said. "I was able to jog to the mound, which I couldn't do the other day."

BREWERS: Outfielder Brady Clark left in the first because of dizziness after drawing a walk and diving back on a pickoff attempt. Also, second baseman Junior Spivey collided with the Angels' David Matranga while covering first in the eighth and sustained a lacerated lip before leaving.

CARDINALS: Reggie Sanders homered in the third inning against the Mets in his first game since an appendectomy March 18.

INDIANS: Rightfielder Juan Gonzalez, who made the opening-day roster in his comeback from three injury-plagued seasons, was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a tight left hamstring. ... Left-hander C.C. Sabathia pitched two innings in a minor-league game, allowing one hit, a home run. Sabathia is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique muscle.

NATIONALS: Right-hander Tony Armas went on the 15-day disabled list with a right groin pull, the team's first significant injury.

PIRATES: Leftfielder Jason Bay, out since March 8 with a bruised left wrist bone, went 0-for-4 in a minor-league game. The NL rookie of the year could play in a major-league game today.

TIGERS: Right-hander Fernando Rodney left the game with a sore shoulder after facing one batter in the ninth. Pitching coach Bob Cluck said the problem wasn't related to the Tommy John surgery that kept the reliever out of baseball last season.