Yanks Blast Royals, Clemens Wins #290

Roger Clemens was not at his best on Tuesday evening in Kansas City, in fact he only lasted five plus innings. His teammates made sure that he would not go home without his 290th career win, however as they pelted Kansas City pitching for ten runs enroute to the 10-5 victory. Bernie Williams was the hitting hero, as he homered and knocked in four runs in the game.

Roger Clemens was shaky at best in his second start since coming off the disabled list. He just managed to survive the necessary five innings and he failed to retire a batter in the sixth. He left the game with the bases loaded and leading by a score of 6-4. Steve Karsay then entered the game and managed to allow only a single run to score, while escaping the bases loaded jam without further damage. It was Karsay's relief work that allowed the Rocket to tally the 290th win, which moves him one rung closer to baseball immortality.

The New Yorkers broke on top in the first inning and gave Clemens a 2-0 lead before he had thrown a pitch. With two outs, Jason Giambi drew a walk from Kansas City starter Jeff Suppan, and Bernie Williams strolled the plate. He promptly homered to give the Yanks the early lead.

Clemens showed that he was not in top condition in the bottom of the inning, however, when former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch blooped a double and scored on another two-base blow by Mike Sweeney. The Yankee lead was quickly halved at 2-1.

Williams gave Roger some more breathing room in the fourth inning, when Alfonso Soriano singled and Giambi walked again. After both runners moved up a notch on a Suppan wild pitch, Bernie delivered a double that scored them both and increased the New York lead to 4-1.

The Yankees tacked on another run in the top of the fifth, but Clemens ran into trouble in the bottom of the frame. Joe Randa and Aaron Gueil both singled and came around to score on hits by rookie Ordaz and Neifi Perez, as the Royals shaved the deficit to two runs at 5-3.

A homerun by John Vander Wal increased the lead to three runs at 6-3, but Clemens gave the run right back in the bottom of the fifth when Raul Ibanez doubled, and came home on a single by Randa. At that point, it became apparent that Clemens was not long for the game.

In the bottom of the sixth, Roger sandwiched walks to Guiel and Ordaz around a single to Brent Mayne. It was time. Joe Torre had seen enough and signaled to the bullpen for Karsay. A slow grounder by Knoblauch chased home the fifth Kansas City run and it appeared that Clemens would have to wait at least another start for #290, as the tying run was perched at third with only one out. Karsay saved the day by getting both Perez and Carlos Beltran, leaving both runners stranded. New York had only a 6-5 lead entering the seventh innning.

The Yankees put the game away for Roger in the seventh, when Robin Ventura led off the inning with his 24th homerun of the season. A run-scoring single by Shane Spencer and a two-run hit by Soriano ballooned the lead to 10-5, and the Yankees were never in danger again. Excellent relief work by both Karsay and Sterling Hitchcock, who finished the final two innings, helped to elevate Clemens to within ten wins of Early Wynn and Lefty Grove, both of whom finished their careers with exactly 300 wins.

For the Yankees it was more of the same. The offense did what it had to do to support a pitcher who was obviously not at his best. Just as they had done for Mike Mussina against Oakland, they simply pounded the opposing starter, in this case Suppan, into oblivion and then took care of the bullpen as well. The Yanks will continue their series with Royals on Wednesday at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City.

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