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Estes and Piazza Get In Their Shots

Interleague: Clemens doesn't get hit by a pitch in anticipated matchup, but he gives up two homers and the Mets win, 8-0.

June 16, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — About the only task the New York Mets didn't accomplish Saturday was what should have been the easiest of all: hitting Roger Clemens with a pitch.

Shawn Estes and Mike Piazza homered in successive innings as the Mets paid back Clemens with long balls instead of beanballs, beating the Yankees, 8-0, before a sellout crowd of 54,347 at Shea Stadium.

"Hopefully, we can now just get down to playing baseball and we can stop talking about the hype surrounding Clemens and Piazza," said Estes, who wasn't even a Met when this feud began with Piazza getting hit in the head nearly two years ago.

Estes (3-5) made only one mistake--if it was a mistake--throwing a ball about a foot behind Clemens in his first at-bat, when many were hoping he would get hit.

But with the Mets starting the day in fourth place, getting a needed win was as important as settling the score with Clemens.

"I don't know what closure is," Piazza said. "We just wanted to go out and win. We need to get back in the race."

Estes struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings and answered the question about whether he would help resolve a dispute that began when he was with the San Francisco Giants.

With the fans standing in anticipation of the showdown, Estes made his intent clear on the first pitch--an 87-mph fastball that was about a foot behind Clemens.

"I missed my spot. I didn't execute my pitch," Estes deadpanned. "You can draw your own conclusions."

Piazza could barely get a glove on the pitch that wasn't close to its intended target, whether it was Clemens or the strike zone.

"I never doubted Shawn being a good teammate," Piazza said. "Read into that what you want. We protect each other."

Clemens stepped out of the batter's box, smirked and touched the bill of his helmet as he looked out toward Estes. Clemens, who struck out, refused to talk about the pitch.

The Yankees didn't retaliate, but whether that was because of the umpires' warning or an effort to end the whole saga was unclear. What was clear was the intent of the pitch.

"It was intentional," Yankee Manager Joe Torre said. "If that was what they felt they needed to do, then so be it."

Plate umpire Wally Bell immediately issued a warning to both teams. Met Manager Bobby Valentine looked frustrated over the missed opportunity.

"I think everybody in the ballpark knew what was going on," Bell said.

Estes found a better way to hurt Clemens (8-3), hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning, setting off a loud roar from the crowd and derisive chants of "Ro-ger! Ro-ger!"

"I was trying to gear up for a fastball," Estes said. "He throws pretty hard. I just tried to catch up to it. I was pretty numb after that."

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