Unbeaten Roger Clemens, throwing 94-mph fastballs despite a sprained knuckle, pitched the Boston Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins yesterday in Minneapolis.
Don Baylor and Dwight Evans homered to help him raise his record to 9-0. He leads the league in victories and only Bob Knepper of the NL's Houston Astros has won as many games. No Boston pitcher has started a season better since Roger Moret went 11-0 in 1973.
Clemens hadn't started since last Sunday in Texas, where he sprained a knuckle on the middle finger of his pitching hand on his third pitch. He finished that game anyway and had a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings.
He lasted eight innings yesterday, giving up seven hits before Bob Stanley finished. Clemens' nine strikeouts gave him 90 this season and the AL lead over teammate Bruce Hurst.
"I was really strong at first," he said. "The rest was great for my finger but I was a little sluggish. I ran out of gas in the seventh. I try to keep the minor injuries in the closet. The finger is sore. It's not going to make me miss a start. I have to play with these injuries."
"You can't adjust to a guy throwing the ball that fast," Manager Ray Miller of the Twins said. "He threw strikes and he threw it hard. He's 9-0 and that's impressive but he also has a reputation for arm trouble, so school is still out on him."
"All you can do against Clemens," said Kirby Puckett of the Twins, "is hope you get the fastball when you think it's coming. It's a no-win situation with him, because now he's learned how to throw a few curveballs . . . "
Boston's Wade Boggs singled in his first at-bat for his seventh straight hit. After walking in the third, he grounded into a double play. He finished one for four, dropping his average to .399.
*Mariners 9, Tigers 1: Jim Presley, trying a new stance, ended the three-game sweep in Seattle with nine hits in 14 trips.
Yesterday he doubled, tripled and highlighted a five-run seventh inning with a three-run homer; all of this by spreading his feet and crouching.
"It helps to cut down on all the extra movement and allows me to see the ball better," he said. "It's not something you can get comfortable with in just one day."
The Mariners shut out Detroit until Pat Sheridan's leadoff homer in the ninth. "The Mariners played really solid baseball in this series and we didn't," Dave Collins of the Tigers summarized.
*Royals 5, Rangers 3: Texas had brought a three-game lead in the West to Kansas City, Mo., Friday night. Lonnie Smith's two-run triple with two outs in the seventh gave the Royals a share of that lead but didn't excite Manager Dick Howser.
"You know me," he said. "I don't get excited this early in the season. It's early. There's no meaning to it. But we're scoring runs and we're winning. It doesn't make any difference who we're playing. Everybody in this division is around .500 right now, or close to it."
The Royals and Rangers are 24-24, and so are the Cleveland Indians, who are in sixth place in the East.
Greg Pryor reached on a fielder's choice in the seventh, then went to second on Frank White's pinch single. Mitch Williams relieved starter Jose Guzman (4-6) and struck out Willie Wilson before Smith tripled into right-center field for a 4-3 lead.
George Brett made it 5-3 in the eighth, when he hit his seventh home run this season. It was the 200th of his major league career and provided his 1,000th RBI.
Ruben Sierra hit a three-run homer on his second major league at-bat to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Sierra, leading the American Association in home runs and RBI when called up Saturday, victimized Charlie Leibrandt (5-3) in the fourth inning.
*Indians 9, Brewers 7: When Andy Allanson came to bat with two on and two out in the seventh inning of a 6-6 tie in Cleveland, the Brewers moved their outfield in; Allanson, a 6-foot-5 rookie catcher, has never homered professionally.
His line drive off reliever Bob McClure skipped so quickly into the right-center gap that, by the time anyone retrieved it, Pat Tabler and Tony Bernazard had scored and Allanson had a triple.
Scott Bailes (6-4), Cleveland's third pitcher, got the victory with last-inning help from Ernie Camacho, just off the disabled list. It was Camacho's seventh save.
"That was one of our worst games," Manager George Bamberger complained. His Brewers played without outfielder Rob Deer and first baseman Cecil Cooper, who have sore backs. Scheduled starter Danny Darwin twisted an ankle.
*White Sox 6, Blue Jays 4: In Toronto, Wayne Tolleson's three-run homer into a 30-mph wind ended Chicago's seven-game losing streak.
"I've been struggling a bit and unfortunately it seems like the whole club has been struggling," he said. "We needed somebody to surface."
Jimmy Key (3-4) had shut out the White Sox on one hit May 22, and yesterday had a one-hitter through five innings. But, with one down in the sixth, Joel Skinner and Julio Cruz singled, bringing up Tolleson, who had been one for 17 and had homered only twice all season.
"Key had been in complete control," Tolleson said. "But he got the ball up a bit to Julio in front of me and his first pitch to me was a slider down. He then came with an off-speed pitch, like a batting practice fastball, and it was up over the plate. He was still throwing the ball good. He just made one mistake and it cost him. I knew I hit it good. I figured it would go off the wall. I don't expect balls I hit to go out."
*Yankees 7, A's 1: Dave Winfield's two-run homer broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth in Oakland and helped Tommy John win his 262nd game.
John (3-0), who spent most of last season with the A's, gave up nine hits, struck out seven and walked one in eight innings. Al Holland finished.
Loser Dave Leiper (0-1) relieved recently signed Dave Stewart to start the sixth. With one out, Gary Roenicke singled and Winfield hit his eighth homer this season.
Mike Pagliarulo, whose nose was broken by a pitch Friday night, homered for the Yankees in the eighth