At some point in the last 10 years, it became acceptable for a starting pitcher to go six innings, throw 100 pitches and pat himself on the back for keeping his team in the game.
The sports psychologists taught pitchers to “execute a quality pitch” and not to worry about what happens after the ball leaves their hands. It’s all quite pleasant.
Quite aggravating, too. I’m not that old and I can remember quite vividly covering college pitchers who threw 120 pitches and considered it a moral failing to leave a game before the eighth inning.
That’s what makes Roger Clemens fun to watch. Clemens pitched very well last night and was annoyed with himself after the game. Television reporters lobbed him softball questions and he swatted them back.
“The idea is to win,” he said at one point. “Not keep it close.”
Clemens was at 104 pitches after six innings and went out for the seventh to get another out. That doesn’t make him Superman. But at 44, he’s tougher than pitchers 10 or 20 years younger. The Yankees can use some of that. Clemens all but rolls his eyes when the pitch count is mentioned.
A quality start is when you win the game. Hopefully Tyler Clippard was listening as Clemens was talking last night.