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Clemens Reaches Top of the Strikeout Hill

April 03, 2001|From Associated Press

The World Series flag was raised, there was a sellout crowd and Roger Clemens wanted to bring back a memento for Mom.

The Rocket wasn't going to pass up this chance to set a record.

Clemens became the American League strikeout king Monday, getting five to pass Walter Johnson as the Yankees won their season opener, 7-3, over the Kansas City Royals at New York.

"I wanted to do it here in this setting and on this stage," said Clemens, who was planning to fly to Houston to show the record-setting ball to his mother, who recently got out of intensive care for treatment of emphysema.

Clemens, who has a picture of Johnson hanging in his locker, nearly didn't get a chance for the record in the opener.

He had only three strikeouts in the first seven innings and was hit in the right forearm by a comebacker against the first batter of the eighth.

The ball even left an imprint on Clemens' arm, but it wasn't enough to slow him. He struck out Carlos Beltran for his 3,508th strikeout and then Manager Joe Torre sent Clemens out to start the ninth.

"I felt extremely fresh and strong. . . . I desperately wanted to try to have it happen here," Clemens said.

After a leadoff double by Jermaine Dye, Clemens got Joe Randa on a forkball in the dirt for his 3,509th career strikeout.

However, there is a question about whether Clemens actually passed or tied Johnson. According to Total Baseball, the official encyclopedia of major league baseball, Johnson's strikeout total was recently updated giving him 3,509. In contrast, major league baseball's own Web site had a story acknowledging Clemens as the AL's new strikeout king.

Seattle 5, Oakland 4--John Olerud's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth scored Carlos Guillen to snap a 4-4 tie at Seattle. Kazuhiro Sasaki pitched the ninth for his first save.

Ichiro Suzuki, a seven-time batting champion in Japan who made his major league debut, had two hits. Olerud also had a run-scoring single in the seventh inning to tie it at 4-4.

Chicago 7, Cleveland 4--David Wells allowed two runs--both homers--and four hits in six innings at Cleveland, improving to 17-4 against the Indians.

Juan Gonzalez homered twice in his first game for the Indians. Magglio Ordonez hit a three-run homer off loser Bartolo Colon, and Paul Konerko had three hits and two RBIs for the White Sox.

Baltimore 2, Boston 1--Brady Anderson singled home the winning run in the 11th off Derek Lowe after Jerry Hairston's leadoff double at Baltimore.

Pedro Martinez, vying for his fourth consecutive opening day win, gave up one run and four hits in seven innings, walked one and struck out six.


Rocketing Up the Charts

Roger Clemens passed Walter Johnson to become the AL's all-time strikeout leader. The top 20 in major league history:

1. Nolan Ryan 5,714

2. Steve Carlton 4,136

3. Bert Blyleven 3,701

4. Tom Seaver 3,640

5. Don Sutton 3,574

6. Gaylord Perry 3,534

7. Roger Clemens 3,509

8. Walter Johnson 3,508

9. Phil Niekro 3,342

10. Ferguson Jenkins 3,192

11. Bob Gibson 3,117

12. Randy Johnson 3,040

13. Jim Bunning 2,855

14. Mickey Lolich 2,832

15. Cy Young 2,819

16. Frank Tanana 2,773

17. Warren Spahn 2,583

18. Bob Feller 2,581

19. Jerry Koosman 2,556

20. David Cone 2,540

Note--Clemens, Randy Johnson

and David Cone are active.

Source: Associated Press

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