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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Rocket first to strike out 20 in nine-inning game
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
April 29, 1986
Roger Clemens accomplishes what no strikeout pitcher has ever done before. Not Walter Johnson, not Bob Feller, not Sandy Koufax, not Nolan Ryan. The flame-throwing Boston Red Sox right-hander becomes the first to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game.
Clemens has fanned 18 Seattle Mariners going into the ninth. Then he whiffs Spike Owen before striking out Phil Bradley for the fourth time to break the record of 19 set by Steve Carlton (1969) and matched by Tom Seaver (1970) and Ryan (1974). Boston's 3-1 victory ends with Clemens retiring Ken Phelps on a grounder.
"The Rocket" also ties the American League record of eight consecutive strikeouts (aided by first baseman Don Baylor's error on a foul pop during the streak). Amazingly, Clemens does not walk a batter. He allows only three hits, with Seattle's run coming on a Gorman Thomas homer. It is the 20th career victory for the 23-year-old Clemens, who is in his third season with Boston.
Clemens will duplicate his 20-strikeout, no-walk performance 10 years later, this time against the Detroit Tigers. It will be his 192nd, and last, victory for Boston.
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