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Clemens-Piazza Exchange Bats, Words
THE STADIUM in the BRONX, NY– Despite eight masterful innings of two-hit, shutout baseball by Roger Clemens, which included a bat-throwing incident with Mike Piazza, the New York Mets rallied for five unanswered runs in the top of the ninth. It was not enough, as the New York Yankees squeaked past the Mets 6-5, taking a commanding 2-0, best-of-seven, lead in the World “Subway” Series.
All eyes were on Clemens and Mike Piazza. Remembering the July 8th incident where Clemens hit Piazza upside his head with a fastball that knocked him out cold, fans were eager to see what exactly would happen when the two met face-to-face. In their first meeting since the incident in the top of the first, Clemens was working on a 0-2 count. Piazza inadvertently broke his bat on a fastball that shed sharp pieces of wood toward Clemens’ direction. An angry Clemens threw one shard of wood toward the first base side, ironically, in the same direction that Piazza was headed.
Immediately, both dugouts cleared, just as Piazza and Clemens stalked one another off the mound. Was Clemens’ bat-throwing action intentional? A rational man would say probably. However, only Clemens knows for sure.
Moving ahead. In the bottom of the first with two outs, the Yankees struck first when Tino Martinez’ single to leftfield brought home David Justice from second base. The Yanks lead 1-0. Jorge Posada’s run-scoring single past second base drove Bernie Williams home from second as well, as the Yankees extended their lead, 2-0.
In the bottom of the second, Scott Brosius’ leadoff homer to leftfield, followed by an RBI single to the rightfield corner from Paul O’Neill in the bottom of the fifth, extended the Yankees lead to 4-0. The Yanks added two extra insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh on Brosius’ RBI sacrifice fly to right, and another RBI single to left by Martinez that brought Jeter home.
As soon as Clemens was removed from the game after pitching eight innings, allowing just two hits with nine strikeouts, the Mets did plenty of damage in the top of the ninth. Jeff Nelson, subbing for Clemens, failed to record an out, as Piazza launched a two-run homer to left that cut the Yankees lead to 6-2. Mariano Rivera, with two out and two on, allowed Jay Payton to hit a three-run shot to right that pulled the Mets to within just one run. Despite a rocky outing from Rivera and the Yankees bullpen, Rivera still managed to close the show by striking Kurt Abbott out.
Game 3 on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium will feature Orlando Hernandez (12-13, 4.51 ERA) for the Yankees against Rick Reed (11-5, 4.11 ERA) for the Mets. 10.23.00