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May 6, 2007
Red Sox 4, Twins 3
MINNEAPOLIS -- The last thing Minnesota's struggling, short-handed offense needed was a date with Curt Schilling.
Boston's ace tied a season high with seven strikeouts and the Red Sox hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Sunday.
Schilling (4-1) allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, and Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with two doubles for the Red Sox, who took two of three from a Twins team that scored just five runs in the series.
Minnesota starter Sidney Ponson (2-4) gave up four runs, three earned, and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked four.
Jason Tyner's two-run single with two outs in the seventh chased Schilling. Torii Hunter added an RBI single off Hideki Okajima to cut Boston's lead to 4-3. But AL MVP Justin Morneau grounded out to end the inning, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 tries.
Hunter extended his career-high hitting streak to 21 games with an infield single in the sixth, but the Twins are sorely missing two big hitters in the middle of the lineup.
Reigning AL batting champ Joe Mauer missed his second straight game with a strained left quadriceps muscle and cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer has missed five in a row with a bruised back.
Schilling took advantage, cruising through the first six innings to help the Red Sox maintain their 5 1/2-game cushion over the New York Yankees in an AL East race that got a lot more interesting on Sunday with Roger Clemens' announcement that he will pitch in pinstripes this season.
The Yankees made the move to bolster an injury-depleted pitching staff. With Clemens, they hope to compete with Boston's strong rotation. Schilling headlines a group that includes Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield, and the Red Sox (20-10) are off to one of the best starts in franchise history.
The Twins have plenty of questions in their rotation behind ace Johan Santana. Ponson, the 6-foot-1, 258-pound right-hander from Aruba, might be the biggest. They signed him in the offseason in hopes that he could provide some veteran stability at the back end of the rotation.
Ponson got off to a shaky start when he gave up a leadoff single to Coco Crisp, hit Alex Cora with a pitch that nearly went behind him and walked David Ortiz. Cora scored on a double by J.D. Drew.
After Ponson struck out the side in the second, the Red Sox went up 2-0 in the third when Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Kevin Youkilis.
They added two more in the fifth thanks to a throwing error by Ponson.
With runners on first and third and none out, Mike Lowell hit a bouncer back to Ponson. The pitcher hesitated, then tried to start a double play, but his throw to second was low and all the runners were safe.
Ponson smacked himself in the head after the play, and the Red Sox parlayed the error into a two-run inning that made it 4-0, giving Schilling just enough support.
Notes: Before the game, a scoring change was announced on a play in the ninth inning of Saturday night's game. Twins 3B Nick Punto was initially charged with an error when a ball hit by Youkilis squirted under his glove in the hole between shortstop and third base. On Sunday, Youkilis was credited with a hit, and the error was wiped off Punto's record.
Posted by Art Martone at 5:30 PM | Permalink
Updated at 4:46 p.m.: Clemens returning to Yankees
Roger Clemens returned to the New York Yankees, making a dramatic announcement to fans from the owner's box during Sunday's game against the Seattle Mariners.
At the end of the seventh-inning stretch, Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard told fans to turn their attention to the box, where Clemens was standing with a microphone. As the video scoreboard in right-center showed Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner made the announcement himself.
"Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," Clemens said. "I'll be talking to y'all soon."
Clemens, who will turn 45 in August, agreed to a minor league contract and most likely will join the Yankees after spending several weeks getting into shape. He hopes to be pitching in the major leagues by late May or June 1.
"I'm about at playing weight right now," he said. "I feel pretty good."
The Rocket pitched for New York from 1999-2003. He left the Yankees after the 2003 season, saying he was retiring, but after Andy Pettitte signed with the Houston Astros, Clemens followed his friend to their hometown team.
Pettitte returned to the Yankees this year, and Clemens followed on Sunday.
"It's another challenge," said Clemens, eighth on the career list with 348 wins. "I expect to do things at the age of 44, 45 like I did at 25."
He chose New York over two of his other former teams, the Astros and Boston Red Sox.
"Let's face it -- these guys know how to win," Clemens said, adding that captain Derek Jeter pressed him to return as New York struggled early this season.
The Yankees have been beset by a rash of injuries to their pitching staff, contributing to a disappointing 14-15 start. But they beat the Mariners 5-0 on Sunday for their fifth victory in six games after losing eight of nine.
"Derek was on me once a week, especially when things weren't working out," Clemens said. "I see the problems with the pitching staff, too, the injuries are incredible."
Clemens said the entire process happened within the past 48 hours or so, and he didn't even tell Pettitte or Jeter that it was a done deal.
"Andy is going to be pretty upset with me," Clemens said.
Clemens will have the same travel privileges he had with Houston last year, when he sometimes skipped road trips if he wasn't scheduled to pitch. Instead, he spent the time at home with his family or working with Astros minor leaguers.
Yankees manager Joe Torre ran that issue by several clubhouse leaders who signed off on the arrangement, general manager Brian Cashman said.
"It's time to go to work," Clemens said. "I've got a lot of work to do to get back up here."
Traded from Toronto to the Yankees before the 1999 season, Clemens helped New York win consecutive World Series titles in his first two seasons in the Bronx. He won the AL Cy Young Award with a 20-3 record in 2001 and was a member of pennant winners that year and in 2003.
"As I pledged just a few days ago, I will do everything within my power to support Brian Cashman, Joe Torre and this team as we fight to bring a 27th championship to New York," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "Roger Clemens is a winner and a champion, and he is someone who can be counted on to help make this season one that all Yankees fans can be proud of. The sole mission of this organization is to win a world championship."
Posted by Art Martone at 4:46 PM | Permalink
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