Remembering Mets History (2002) Roger Clemens Comes to Bat in Regular Season Subway Series Showdown at Shea Stadium

Saturday June 15th, 2002: In this second game of the 2002 regular season subway series the Mets hosted their cross-town rivals on an overcast day at Shea Stadium.

 It was a huge game, not because of what it meant in the standings or for what the score outcome was to be. This was all about dram & New York media hype. This would be the first time Roger Clemens would have to come to bat against the New York Mets after all the dramas of his battles with Mets Hall of Famer Mike Piazza.

The dramas began on June 6th, 1999, when the Mets roughed up Clemens for seven runs on eight hits. Piazza doubled then hit a two run HR off Clemens in the 7-2 win. When the series moved to Queens in July, Piazza hit a three run HR off Clemens breaking a 2-2 tie in the 6th inning leading to a 5-3 Mets win & another loss for Clemens.

On June 9th, 2000, in the regular season Subway Series match up in the Bronx, Piazza hit a 3rd inning grand slam HR off Clemens giving the Mets a 4-0 lead. It was Piazza's 16th HR of the year & his third HR off Clemens in as many games played. Piazza collected three hits that day, as the Mets scored another nine runs off Clemens in a 12-2 win.

On July 8th in the Bronx, in the top of the 2nd inning, Clemens hit Piazza in the head with a pitch, laying him out at home plate. Piazza had to be removed from the game & missed some time due to the injury. 

In the subway World Series, in another highly anticipated at bat Piazza broke a bat on a foul ball that flew in the direction of Clemens. He picked up the bat & threw it in the direction of Piazza. Benches cleared; the umpires got between the two as Piazza approached the mound in a very confusing moment.

Piazza grounded out & went 0-2 against him that night, before homering in the 9th inning.
Clemens did not pitch against the Mets in the 2001 regular season but was scheduled to start in this game.

Trivia: In his career Mike Piazza batted .421 (8-19) against Clemens hitting 4 HRs with 10 RBIs over eight games.

54,347 fans filled up Shea Stadium including centerfieldmaz, in anticipation of this exciting showdown. The game had been talked about & hyped up by the media all week. The fans couldn't stop talking about the matchups as well. It was a big deal & the hottest ticket in town. 

Bobby Valentine's Mets were just below .500 (33-34) at this point in the season & gave the ball to pitcher Shawn Estes. Estes had only been a Met for a few months & found himself in the middle of the madness on the world's biggest stage.

The Met fans outnumbered the AL New York fans at Shea Stadium & since most of the game went the Mets way, they had to take the grunt of the verbal abuse.

The Shea crowd was very vocal & very loud on this day. The Mets fans shouted any insults they could toward the notorious Steroid abuser Roger Clemens & his hated team.

Things were quiet in the first two innings with no scoring or drama just a lot of tension & anticipation.

In the top of the 3rd inning, it all came to a head, the fans were on their feet & held their breaths as Roger Clemens stepped in to bat to a chorus of boos. Strangely he appeared a bit shy & meek. All of a sudden You could hear a pin drop in the big ballpark as Shawn Estes wound up & threw the pitch.

The pitch went behind Clemens back, it did not knock him down nor did it hit him. Admittingly, most Mets fans wanted to see him lying in the dirt & were furious that Estes did not retaliate for Piazza. It was not to be. 

Estes made the moment pass uneventful, some praised his effort to keep the peace, even Clemens touched his helmet in a tip of the hat gesture to Estes. It is unknown what his teammates thought at the time but Estes would get traded away two months later.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Rey Ordonez doubled to left field to start the inning. Pitcher Shawn Estes laid down a bunt down third base, on Ron Coomer's throw to first base, Ordonez hustled & scored the Mets first run.

In the home 5th, Roger Cedeno led off with a double to left field. Shawn Estes then gained some respect from the Mets fans when he took a Roger Clemens pitch over the fence for a HR to make it 3-0. 
Estes would hit four HRs in his career.

In the 6th Mike Piazza who was 0-2 at this point stepped in & in story book fashion, blasted a Clemens pitch over the left field fence for another HR. The Mets fans went wild as if they had won a championship. Clemens just dropped his head.

The Mets were now up 4-0. Two batters later in that 6th inning, manager Joe Torre removed Clemens from the game replacing him with Ted Lilly. 

The Mets fans had their moment as he walked off the field, letting him have it at the top of their lungs with all the anger they inside. 

For Shawn Estes he pitched seven innings, shutting out the AL team on five hits, striking out a
season high eleven batters.

The score remained 4-0 Mets until the bottom of the 8th inning. With Sterling Hitchcock now pitching, Mike Piazza walked & Mo Vaughn singled to right field. Jeromy Burnitz then singled to center bringing in Piazza with the Mets fifth run, as the Mets crowd roared once again. By this time most AL New York fans were long gone.

Roger Cedeno singled, giving Hitchcock his exit. Rey Ordonez greeted new pitcher Mike Thurman with a bases clearing triple, capping off the 8-0 Mets romp.

 For the Mets Scott Strickland pitched 0.2 of an inning & Mark Guthrie closed out the game pitching 1.1 innings of scoreless hitless baseball.

For the AL team, Roger Clemens took the loss (8-3) allowing four runs, two HRs, six hits & a walk in 5.2 innings. Ted Lilly pitched 0.1 of an inning. Sterling Hitchcock gave up four runs on three hits & a walk in 1.1 innings of work. Mike Thurman finished out the game.

For the Mets, Jeremy Burnitz, Roger Cedeno & Rey Ordonez all had two hits each, with Mike Piazza, Mo Vaughn & Shawn Estes collecting one hit each. Piazza & Estes had the big blows with the HRs. Rey Ordonez had three RBIs, with Estes having two & Piazza & Burnitz an RBI each.


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