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Matchup: Fish vs. Clemens' legacy
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10/23/2003  1:52 AM ET 
Matchup: Fish vs. Clemens' legacy
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  • Own the Rocket's final start

    Marlins not awed by Rocket

    Roger Clemens
    Miguel Cabrera
    The matchup: The Florida Marlins vs. the legacy of Roger Clemens

    Roger Clemens is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest baseball players of his time. The 41-year-old Yankees right-hander is making the last start of his 20-year career in Game 4 of the World Series on Wednesday night in Pro Player Stadium, and it's a big one.

    If the Rocket can beat the Florida Marlins, the Yankees will take a three-games-to-one lead in the Fall Classic and will need to win one of the next three games, two of which are slated for Yankee Stadium. Clemens will be pitching with passion, nostalgia and a sense of purpose.

    That would seemingly be enough pressure to put on the Marlins' offense, but when you factor in Florida's .216 batting average in the Series, they're up against history and themselves Wednesday night.

    The expectation: Clemens didn't get the job done in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, getting knocked out in the fourth inning against his former team, the Boston Red Sox. It looked like an unsightly end to his glorious career.

    The Yankees' comeback victory that propelled them into the World Series gave Clemens one more shot at glory. He'll be as geared up as he's ever been to end his amazing career on a high note. Losing to Carl Pavano and the Florida Marlins in Pro Player Stadium is not how he wants to be remembered.

    The result: Clemens did a solid but unspectacular job, throwing seven innings and giving up three runs. The problem for the Yankees was that the Marlins were not intimidated at all by Clemens' legacy, snarl or fastball.

    Florida came out swinging right away, putting up three runs on Clemens in the first inning courtesy of five straight hits, including a two-run homer by Miguel Cabrera.

    The Yankees were on their heels from the beginning and lost momentum right away in a game the Marlins would eventually win in the 12th inning. If this was indeed Clemens' final career start, it will most likely be an unsatisfying one because it ended with a no-decision.

    MIAMI -- The Boston Red Sox were leading, 4-0, in the fourth inning when Roger Clemens was yanked from what looked like his final start as a big-league pitcher last Thursday.

    It was Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in an unbelievably emotionally charged Yankee Stadium.

    The World Series was on the line, the hated Boston Red Sox were on the other side of the diamond and Clemens' legacy of grand moments with each club was alive and well.

    It looked like the Rocket's storybook career would come to an abrupt close that night, but a brilliant bullpen, a clutch comeback and an Aaron Boone home run ensured that Clemens would be granted one more opportunity to shine for the final time.

    On Wednesday night, Clemens, 41, got another chance to make his last start a memorable -- and winning -- one.

    He brought all the intangibles to the mound. He was facing the much-lesser-known Carl Pavano and he was up against a Florida team that was batting a collective .216 heading into Game 4.

    He also had the legacy of a Hall of Fame career behind him. Surely the upstart Marlins would be powerless against the aura and mystique of a 300-game winner, a 4,000-strikeout man and a fearless competitor who wanted to go out as a champion?

      Rocket's final ride
    When Roger Clemens took the mound in Game 4, it was his 26th start in the playoffs, seventh in the World Series and 632nd of his career. In the biggest stage in baseball, it most likely was his last.
    Career highlights: 56K | 300K
    Clemens' postgame press conference: 300K
    Kacy Clemens sums it up: 300k
    • Clemens' last pitch:  56K | 300K
    Last pitch calls: NYY | FLA
    • Clemens' fifth-inning single:
    56K | 300K   Audio

    Own the Rocket's final start
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    Final liftoff for the Rocket
    Bauman: Over and out on good note
    Clemens walks off to loud ovation
    Matchup: Fish vs. Clemens' legacy
    Contrarians: Should Rocket return?
    Rocket fans aplenty at Pro Player
    Roger Clemens notes
    Clemens notches 300th win >

    Well, it looked like it sure didn't matter to these Fighting Fish.

    With Clemens hell-bent on finishing up his career as a winner and flashbulbs popping like mad throughout the loud crowd of close to 66,000, the Marlins took it right to Clemens, striking for three runs on five straight hits in the first inning.

    More important, they showed that they could handle the inside pitches, the high heat and the diving "Mr. Splittie" that has made the Rocket so special for all these years.

    Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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