After whiffing Gathright, Clemens retired Luis Figueroa on a grounder and struck out Prentice Redman to end the inning. The sellout crowd, with many fans wearing Skeeters T-shirts with Clemens‘ name on them, gave him another loud ovation.
Clemens didn’t allow a hit until a single by James Simmons with two outs in the second inning. He retired the next batter to end the eight-pitch inning.
Clemens has a bit of a belly that scores of 50-year-olds have, but he was effective enough against many hitters who were almost half his age.
The Rocket hasn’t committed to pitching more than one game for the Skeeters, but some believe this is the first step in an attempted return to the majors.
Clemens is set to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot going to voters late this year. If he plays in a major league game this year, his Hall consideration would be pushed back five years.
Clemens, who wore gray cleats with bright yellow accents, needed 13 pitches to get through a perfect third inning. He threw one more pitch after that and Figueroa lined out to end Clemens‘ night with the Skeeters on top 1-0.
He received a standing ovation as he left. He stopped to tip his cap to the appreciative overflow crowd of 7,724 before heading to the dugout to begin recuperating and see how his body responds to his big night.
After Clemens left the game, he stood along the railing of the dugout and chatted with his teammates, including fellow former major league pitcher Scott Kazmir and Jason Lane, who played with Clemens on Houston’s 2005 World Series team.
Fans kept inching down near the dugout armed with phones, IPads and cameras looking to snap a picture and collect a memory of the big night in this Houston suburb about 20 minutes from downtown.
Playing close to home, he had a large group of friends and family among the crowd, including wife Debbie and sons Kacy and Kody.
Clemens bounded into the home clubhouse a little more than an hour and a half before the game wearing a gray Longhorn shirt, jeans and cowboy boots and bellowed, “how we doing, how we doing?” as he walked through shaking hands with his teammates.
His highlighted blond hair was a bit spiky on top, causing a couple of his teammates to ask each other if he’d gotten a new haircut.
One fan held a sign which read: ‘The Rocket has landed in Sugar Land,’ and children squealed with delight as he came on the field to warm up about 30 minutes before the game.
Clemens has spent much of his time out of baseball defending his reputation.