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Clemens Has Big Hand in Orioles' 10-3 Victory

April 02, 2002|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — The fans at Camden Yards cheered Cal Ripken, the Maryland Terrapins and Johnny Oates. As an unexpected bonus, they got to watch their Baltimore Orioles chase Roger Clemens to start the post-Ripken era.

Clemens was cruising, and opening day seemed headed for a predictable finish between the four-time defending American League champions and a team given little hope this season, until the Rocket tried to barehand a grounder.

Clemens stayed in the game but wasn't the same. Two walks and a wild pitch later, he was jolted for a grand slam by Tony Batista in the Orioles' 10-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday.

"I saw he was walking guys--I decided I was going to hit the first pitch, whether it was a sinker or a fastball," Batista said. "I never hit a home run off Clemens before. We have a better team than people might think if we all do our jobs. I did my job today."

Clemens, coming off his record sixth Cy Young Award, gave up eight runs, walked five and threw two wild pitches--all after he tried to field David Segui's grounder with one out in the fourth. Clemens deflected the ball, then snatched his hand away and leaned forward with both hands on his knees as Segui beat out the infield hit.

Clemens threw a couple of warmup pitches before resuming, but his control was gone. He walked Jeff Conine and Jay Gibbons before Batista sent a drive a few feet beyond the 410-foot mark in left-center field.

"I think when he initially reached out he knew it was the wrong thing to do," New York Manager Joe Torre said. "It's something he's been doing his whole career.... I think he was just trying to overthrow after that."

Clemens was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which were negative. He has some swelling in his hand and is listed as day-to-day.

Scott Erickson, who sat out last season after elbow surgery, gave up three hits in six innings in his first outing in 20 months. He walked three of the first four batters he faced, leading to an unearned run in the first.

But Erickson settled down, escaped his only other jam in the fifth and earned his first victory since July 20, 2000.

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