Roger Clemens’ return to professional baseball Saturday night in suburban Houston went about as smoothly as such a thing can go.
The 50-year-old right-hander tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out two as the independent Sugar Land Skeeters played host to the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Clemens topped out at 88 mph with his fastball and threw 24 of his 37 pitches for strikes before exiting in the middle of the fourth inning to a standing ovation from the sold out crowd at Constellation Field.
Clemens plans to see how his body responds to the brief outing before deciding on a next course of action. Astros owner Jim Crane told a reporter earlier this week that he would be “open” to discussing a contract.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t appeared in a major league game since the 2007 season.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.