Roger Clemens has shut himself down for the rest of 2012, but he hasn’t completely given up on the dream of one day returning to the major leagues.
The 50-year-old right-hander will be in Kissimmee, Florida with the Astros next spring to fulfill his personal services contract and may be more than just a special instructor if his arm cooperates in workouts leading up to the opening of camp.
Via Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle:
“I might be going again here in February or something like that,” Clemens said Saturday. “I’ll be throwing. I don’t think it’s going to be competitive, but you guys know with me, I’m never going to shut the door on anything. Who knows what might happen.”
Clemens threw seven scoreless innings over two starts earlier this summer for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t pitched in the majors since the 2007 season.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.