Roger Clemens didn't suffer a letdown after recording his 300th victory last Friday, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning last night at The Stadium vs. Tampa Bay. Forget about the fact that this was the D-Rays, Clemens was downright nasty. He was matched, however, by Victor Zambrano. Clemens allowed one hit in eight innings of work, while Zambrano allowed two. Clemens pounded the Ray with his fastball and his splitter, while Zambrano vexed the Bombers with his sinker. Both pitchers left with the game still scoreless and then it was up to the bullpens. Both pens were excellent and this has to be one of the best-pitched games of the season.
The Yanks won the game, 1-0 when Alfonso Soriano singled with the bases loaded with one out in the 12th inning. Sori hit a pitch that was about two feet outside and maybe a foot off the ground. It is the same pitch we are used to watching him wave at all the time, but Soriano inexplicably poked the pitch, like a back hand return in tennis, up the middle to end the game. Just when you want to curse him out for swinging at that kind of trash, he turns water into wine. Go figure. He's not a freak for nothing.
Before the game, Joe Torre addressed the comments he made to Fox TV. John Harper has a good write-up on Torre in the News today:
...The beauty of Torre in pinstripes [is]: He says what he thinks, and he doesn't manage scared.
From the day he arrived as Yankee manager, Torre carried himself with a relaxed sense of security that can't be faked, a security that comes with being an NL MVP as a player, and a man who knows he could command a high price as a broadcaster, if necessary.
So maybe he didn't have a specific message in mind for Steinbrenner yesterday, but with his answers he surely offered a reminder to his players that he's as much his own man as ever, the same guy who managed the Yankees to four world championships.
That may have been important to him, since Torre said in the dugout yesterday that his players had been asking him if he was okay, apparently alarmed by newspaper stories over the weekend full of speculation about being fired.
"My goal is to insulate them from those type of distractions," Torre said. "I wasn't successful this time."