07/24/07 1:25 AM ET
Royals unable to solve Clemens
Right-hander notches 25th career victory against KC
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Clemens was his same old self in the New York Yankees' 9-2 victory over the Royals on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
"He changed speeds really well. Everybody talks about how great his stuff is -- he's always had powerful stuff, he's got a power arm," said Royals manager Buddy Bell.
"But the thing that's got him where he is today -- a Hall of Famer -- it's all about pitching and he showed us that tonight," added Bell.
Clemens, soon to be 45, has rarely faltered against the Royals. In fact, in 39 previous starts in his long career, he had a 24-7 record and a 2.17 ERA against them.
So, with 30,476 fans in the seats, Clemens was up to his old tricks. The Royals didn't have a hit until the ninth batter, Tony Pena, grounded a full-count pitch into left field.
"We gave Roger a four-run lead and he knew what to do with it," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
That 4-0 lead came in just two innings against the Royals' Odalis Perez.
"From that point on, you can just go out there and throw strikes and stay away from walking anybody. It worked out nice for us," Clemens said. "Guys got it done and then we added to it late. It was a nice night."
Sure was -- he walked none and allowed just four hits. The first run against him came in the fourth when Mark Grudzielanek, who's 8-for-26 (.308) against Clemens, doubled and eventually crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
"He's awesome," Grudzielanek said. "I love facing guys like that. You try to bring your game to that level and you know he's going to come out there and deal. He's one of the best ever."
That assessment was confirmed in Grudzielanek's next at-bat in the sixth with no outs and two runners on. He rolled into a double play.
That wasn't the Royals' last hurrah. Just almost. Ross Gload crashed a home run off Clemens with the bases empty in the seventh.
No real surprise that the big fella isn't exactly the Clemens of yesterday. After all, he made his Major League debut for the Boston Red Sox on May 15, 1984, nearly two years before Royals rookie Billy Butler was born.
"No, he's lost a little," Grudzielanek. "Back in the day, he threw 94, 95 with sink and his splitter was a little sharper. Yeah, he's definitely still got a little bit and he's still effective. ... He's a battler, man."
Perez matched his longest outing of the season. He went seven innings but the first two were rocky.
Hideki Matsui drilled a two-run single in the first inning. Johnny Damon lashed a two-run double in the second inning and the Yankees led, 4-0.
"They are the Yankees and if you make any mistakes, you're going to pay for it," Perez said. "They've been playing great and Clemens might be 44 years old, but only with his name, he can get people out because he knows how to pitch."
A close game turned into a rout in the ninth inning, when the Yankees scored five runs, clinching their ninth win in 11 games. Alex Rodriguez got his 100th RBI, Jorge Posada belted a bases-loaded single and the Royals made two errors.
Grudzielanek, the Gold Glove second baseman, dropped an easy popup to let in the last run.
"Lack of focus," he said. "It just happens."
And when it happened, suspicions were confirmed.
"When Grud misses a popup like that, you know it's not our night," Bell said.
No, this night belonged to Clemens.
"He looked good, he is good," Royals rookie Alex Gordon said. "He wasn't overpowering or anything but he was locating his pitches."
Clemens also located his 25th career win against the Royals. In fact, in seven starts for the Yankees against them, the Rocket is 6-0.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.