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Clemens Strikes Out 20, Again; Rocket Repeats Magic 10 Years After

DETROIT--In 1986, Roger Clemens was a young fireballer amidst his first Cy Young season when he struck out 20 Seattle Mariners and established a Major League Baseball record. That same year, Clemens won All-Star Game MVP honors as well as the regular-season MVP while leading the Red Sox to the World Series. In short, he was baseball's best player. Fast forward to September 18, 1996, and The Rocket takes the hill in Detroit in front of a sparse crowd of 8,779 in cavernous Tiger Stadium. Both teams are out of the pennant race and Clemens, who is 39-38 during the past four seasons, is two weeks away from becoming a free agent. "I know I'm winding down," said Clemens, who entered the game 9-12 on the season, "and the wins haven't fallen my way this year like I would've hoped."
Four innings later, Rocket is firing on all cylinders. He has nine strikeouts when he fans Travis Fryman to start the 5th inning. Melvin Nieves and Phil Nevin sit down next. Clemens now has 12 strikeouts including the last five batters. After a leadoff single in the sixth, he gets the side again as Kimera Bartee, Bobby Higginson, and Alan Trammell fall victim in order. Clemens tacks on two more strikeouts in both the 7th and 8th innings. He toes the rubber in the final frame with 19 strikeouts, one shy of his own record. With one out, Ruben Sierra


singles; it's the fifth Tiger hit of the night (all singles). Tony Clark follows and flies out. Fryman is next and Clemens rings him up to make history, again. "You can't even count on striking out 20 big-league hitters, I'm just happy to tie it. I knew that I had it in the upper teens, but then [catcher Bill] Haselman ran out to the mound to let me know I was near the record," said Clemens. "I think that made it more emotional for me. I mean that's all but seven guys in the game."
Just as he did 10 years earlier, Clemens issued no walks while striking out 20. The victory stands as his final win in a Red Sox uniform and it took 151 pitches to complete. The win also tied him with Cy Young atop the Red Sox all-time leader board in victories (192) and shutouts (38). "I feel very fortunate and very blessed," Clemens said. "I've been doing it for 13 years and I can't believe I had 20 again. I knew I had a lot, but this is incredible."

About the Author
Keith Gentili is an award-winning sports writer and editor with ThatsMyTicket.com, a manufacturer of Sports and Concert Ticket Frames. Their products capture the experience and memory of attending significant events by combining elements such as stats, stories, headlines, and licensed photography with actual tickets and personal pictures.

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