It had to happen sooner or later. The last series of the regular season is finally upon us as the…
Clemens went to the mound to warm up in the seventh inning, but he wouldn't face a batter. As Joe Torre left the dugout to retrieve his pitcher, the crowd of 42,702 stood up and cheered. Clemens walked off the mound and waved to the crowd as he made his way to the dugout. He acknowledged the Orioles dugout – which was also cheering him – and tipped his cap to the crowd a second time before heading into the clubhouse.
The Orioles took the lead in the second inning of the game against the Yankees. Tony Batista led off the inning with a single and Jack Cust followed with a double to move Batista to third. Deivi Cruz lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Batista for a 1-0 lead.
One out later, Brook Fordyce fouled off three two-strike pitches before lining a single up the middle to score Cust from second.
The Yankees roared right back in the bottom of the inning. With Aaron Boone at first and Hideki Matsui at second, Juan Rivera hit a single to right field that was dropped by Larry Bigbie. Bigbie fired to the infield in time to catch the Yankee runners in a rundown. Ultimately, Matsui was out at home and there were men at first and second.
Alfonso Soriano stepped to the plate and lined a single to right-centerfield that scored both runners and tied the game. Soriano's hit almost made up for a bonehead play in the first inning where Soriano failed to run out a dribbler that rolled fair at the last minute.
Rivera wasn't nearly done with his game however. He took Jason Johnson's first pitch and deposited it over the left field wall for a fourth-inning, three-run homerun that gave the Yankees – and Roger Clemens – the lead. Rivera added a solo homerun in the eighth off of John Parrish to cap the scoring. The young outfielder now has three homeruns in the last two days.
Johnson (10-10) took the loss for the Orioles, lasting five innings and allowing five runs on 11 hits and three walks. He struck out three batters.
Jose Contreras worked two innings out of the bullpen and allowed just a walk. Felix Heredia pitched the ninth, allowing just a hit.
Derek Jeter had three hits to bring his average to .326 on the season. Jeter is now second in the batting title race behind Boston's Bill Mueller, who sits at .328 going into Boston's Saturday game. Manny Ramirez is third with a .325 average.
The Yankees' season finale will be on Sunday at 1:05 pm. David Wells (14-7, 4.25) will take the mound for the Yankees to face either Sean Douglass (0-0, 13.50) or Eric DuBose (3-5, 3.71) of Baltimore.