Clemens pitches on adrenaline; Japan wins first

Updated: November 10, 2004, 9:57 AM ET
Associated Press

OSAKA, Japan -- Roger Clemens looked little like a pitcher ready to retire.

Roger Clemens

Throwing on just a few hours' sleep after learning he'd won the NL Cy Young Award at age 42, Clemens held the Japanese All-Stars to three runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings Wednesday during a tour of Japan by major leaguers.

Backed by the two-hit pitching of Hisashi Iwakuma, the Japanese squad won 3-1 for their first win in the fifth game of the exhibition tour.

But all eyes were on Clemens.

"I had a great deal of fun," he said. "All things considered, my body felt great. I'm extremely tired right now but was working on adrenaline."

Clemens, who went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts for his hometown Houston Astros, won his record seventh Cy Young on Tuesday. He heard about the honor in a 1 a.m. phone call from Major League Baseball. After a bit of shuteye, Clemens got up for a conference call with reporters, then was off to a promotional event in downtown Osaka.

He's the oldest Cy Young Award winner; Gaylord Perry was 40 when he won the award in 1978.

Clemens wouldn't say definitely whether he'll play again. He briefly retired last offseason after helping the Yankees reach the World Series, then eventually decided to join the Astros.

"I know there are some people in the Houston organization who want to talk to me," Clemens said. "I just don't know yet."

Clemens was as surprised as anyone by his success this season.

"I never expected this to happen," he said. "I was more than comfortable to shut it down last time [with the Yankees]. This is the icing on the cake."

He was impressive for stretches Wednesday, striking out five and walking one.

The only trouble spot? Clemens gave up three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Shigenobu Shima of the Hiroshima Carp doubled in a pair of runs and then scored on a single to left field by Hiroyuki Nakajima of the Seibu Lions.

"I made some good pitches and they hit the ball well," Clemens said. "They've made some adjustments since Game 1. I challenged some hitters and it was fun."

He also pitched in the opening game of this series, a no-decision. He was also part of a major league tour here in 1992.

When he came out of the game in the sixth inning, Clemens tipped his cap to the Japanese fans and got a standing ovation from the crowd of 46,000, many who had come to see him pitch.

Japan's legendary slugger Sadaharu Oh, who is managing the Japanese stars, presented Clemens with a bouquet of flowers before the start of the game.

Clemens signed with the expressed intent of helping the Astros reach the World Series for the first time, but Houston fell one win short. Clemens couldn't hold a 2-0 lead against St. Louis in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

"It was a good season, but to come up short is still tough," Clemens said. "I've had a taste of winning at this level."

With a 328-164 record, Clemens is 10th on the career wins list, and his 4,317 strikeouts are second only to Nolan Ryan's 5,714.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press