Roger Clemens postgame interview
Game-winning pitcher discusses his role in Astros victory
Did you ever think you might get in as a pinch hitter in this ballgame before anything else?
ROGER CLEMENS: You know, when Phil it got late, Phil looked at me, there's been three or four times throughout the year he asked me how I felt I was swinging the bat or if I got my spikes handy. I didn't think he was serious, and he probably wasn't.
But the look that he gave me this time was very serious, there was no kidding around with it. And so I got out to the bullpen. Once we went through everyone, they made the phone call that this was Wheel's (Wheeler) last inning. We knew he was hitting third. I asked Bailey (Mark) to call back and say we're going to bunt or something, hopefully someone would be on where I could bunt or do something. "Let me get loose, get in there." They called back and said "definitely."
The wheels were turning constantly. In a game like that they're going to.
Then the next thing to find out is how my arm felt and make sure my legs were loose and so on and so forth. So I was very fortunate.
How did you feel physically on only two days' rest? Was it more adrenaline, or did you feel pretty good out there?
CLEMENS: Well, no. I mean, in games like this, it's as important to, you know, focus on making pitches. Today I made pitches, quite a few more pitches than I made the other night.
But just came down to making pitches. When we made the error at first base on the throw, you're focusing on getting through that inning, also. I mean, there was just a lot of things to focus on. And it's great when your body feels better. And, you know, sometimes I got to deal with it the way it feels. If it feels real lethargic, which it has some days, then, hey, bottom line is, like I've said, I've dealt with a lot over the last couple weeks. You know, but I still owe it to my teammates to have my energy up when I come here. I'm trying to do that. I'm trying to continue to keep that fire in my belly. It's games like this that can just rekindle that.
I'm happy for all these kids. Just like I told our guys, the other guys in the clubhouse, hopefully it won't be for a few more weeks, but when I do look back on these years here that, you know, it's been a privilege to play with these professionals -- Craig Biggio, Baggy (Bagwell) and what Brad (Ausmus) and I have done over the last two years, probably the, it might be the two best years that I've had a chance to work on that mound with a guy, they rank right up there. Brad's a big part of that, the reason why I shine. So every at bat, every play that I see Biggio out there doing his thing, and just watching Baggy get loose in the tunnel for his opportunity to come in the game to contribute is amazing to watch.
So, I mean, how can you not get ready and be motivated to have this opportunity?
Phil said the only thing that surprised him was you didn't hit a home run today.
CLEMENS: Well, I about fell down. I was looking for a fastball down and I swung. So, you know, it's, I'm just glad I got the bunt down. I knew I'd have that opportunity, but, you know, Phil gives us an opportunity, too. I went over to him before I went up and said, "If Chipper is standing on top of me..." He said, "Swing. Swing as hard as you can." That's the way this ballclub's played the entire year. So no reason to change now.
You've been in uniform for well over 2,000 big league games. Have you ever seen anything like that?
CLEMENS: Yeah. I need to, you know I want to go watch it again, you know, just to try and, you know, just to look at the details of everything that happened in this game.
But I don't know if I've seen anything like this. I've been in a lot of wonderful playoff games, a lot of wonderful World Series, couple of them, you know. I think a couple of the best ones I've been in has been on the losing side. Amazing World Series in '86 and probably 2001, where your emotions go back and forth. I can remember what Andy and I talked about throughout that 2001 series.
But this game here was incredible. I mean, I don't know, you'd have to ask the skipper, managing a nightmare maybe, because when he starts looking at pitchers to hit, and slots, and you can use your last catcher, it was incredible. I mean, I just finished telling Chamo to play back, for my pitch selection, what I wanted to do with that young kid that hurt me the other night. He played back. The ball took a funny hop, and I don't know if it hit his hand or his chest, you know, just a great play. Chamo got right in front of that ball. I don't know if he's ever been in that situation ever. I don't know if he's played first base, you all would know better than I. That's why I told him he had that big old barrel chest for.
You must have understood that you were the last pitcher they had. Were you prepared to go until it was over, no matter what?
CLEMENS: Yeah, I was prepared. Those were the questions posed to me earlier, and I was ready to go. I mean, I did what I needed to do early in the day not knowing, I did my normal stretch routine. I knew I had to throw at some point. I disappeared for a half inning, like I said, in the cage to do my throwing.
And I came back down. I don't wear my game jersey normally, I wear a jacket and something on it, just for the fact to keep some of my stuff locked up, it tends to disappear if you understand that, on the road.
But when Phil looked at me and said, "Get your jersey and spikes on," I knew he was dead serious about it. So we got to it and I had to pick my spot to get out there in the bullpen. I don't really relish what those guys have to go through. Next thing I know, I'm out there by myself. Not a lot to do, flick seeds, chew gum, talk to the fans. That's about all there was to do.
Phil said at a certain point, Jason Lane was going to be the pitcher if you had gone a certain amount of innings. What was your position then?
CLEMENS: I'm sure they could hide me in the outfield, why not (laughing).
Smoltz said of all the things you've done, in his mind this might be the most amazing, to go out there, go three or four innings on two days' rest. Would you consider it to be incredible?
CLEMENS: Like I said, what's incredible is our bullpen, some of these guys that have gotten us here. You know, like I told you all a few days back when I was going to face Smoltzie, just knowing how much pain that he went through, I can respect that as another senior statesman. You know, never blink an eye to take the ball.
You know, that's why, you know, he's been able to start and close games as great as he's been. So I really appreciate that, you know, coming from Smoltzie. It's a huge compliment, so I thank him for that.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.