Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens inducted into PawSox Hall of Fame

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AP photo

Roger Clemens inducted into PawSox Hall of Fame

Roger Clemens is already a member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, but he returned to New England for another induction on Friday.

The Pawtucket Red Sox inducted The Rocket into the Triple-A franchise's Hall of Fame and held a ceremony for the former pitcher at McCoy Stadium. Clemens caught the ceremonial first pitch and was joined by ex-teammates Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, Rich Gedman and Tommy Harper, per the Associated Press.

The PawSox gifted Clemens a pair of shadowboxes with 20 baseballs apiece. Each ball is inscribed with a victim from one of his two 20-strikeout performances.

During the ceremony, Clemens took a moment to pay tribute to his late former teammate, Bill Buckner.

“I’m so happy that we do have a few of our current teammates. Billy Buckner was just that, he was a fantastic teammate,” Clemens said per AP. “There wasn’t anybody more intense. If you fans could see what we saw as players...This man could swing it. He will always be a winner in our hearts.”

Clemens is tied with Cy Young for the Red Sox record for wins, going 192-111 in his time in Boston, posting a 3.06 ERA and a whopping 2,590 strikeouts in his 13 years (1984-96) with the Sox.

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From Clemens to Betts, the best players taken by Red Sox in every round of MLB Draft

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

From Clemens to Betts, the best players taken by Red Sox in every round of MLB Draft

Professional sports drafts can be crapshoots, but nowhere is that more true than baseball.

The Red Sox have selected thousands of players over the years, and while some blue-chip prospects have turned into bona fide studs, others have flamed out before ever reaching the bigs. Even if they do develop into everyday major leaguers, it typically takes several years of development in the minors before players are ready for the grind of Major League Baseball.

And while those prospects develop, sometimes they get shipped out of town in deals for more established players ready to contribute to pennant runs. That's why some of the best players the Sox have drafted over the years have built their careers in cities other than Boston.

But the Sox have added plenty of talent through the draft: MVPs like Mookie Betts, Mo Vaughn, Dustin Pedroia, Fred Lynn and Nomar Garciaparra; aces like Roger Clemens and Jon Lester; Hall of Famers like Jim Rice, Jeff Bagwell and Wade Boggs; and World Series champions like Andrew Benintendi, Anthony Rizzo and Jonathan Papelbon.

John Tomase went back through the years and picked out the best players taken by the Red Sox in each round of the MLB Draft.

Click here for his round-by-round breakdown.>>>>

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No-hit stuff, secret handshakes, and the temptation of 20 K's - inside Chris Sale's latest masterpiece

No-hit stuff, secret handshakes, and the temptation of 20 K's - inside Chris Sale's latest masterpiece

BOSTON -- Twenty uniformed personnel took the field to start a dank, miserable evening at Fenway Park on Tuesday, including players, coaches, umpires, bat boys, and ball girls. Nineteen of them wore long sleeves to combat 44-degree temperatures that felt like late October.

The other was Chris Sale.

His knotty biceps defiantly exposed to the elements, Sale decided to bring an October feel to the yard, too. Except his contributions had nothing to do with heat and everything to do with electricity.

By the time he left the mound two hours later, after seven innings and a career-high 17 strikeouts, fans were chanting, "We want Sale." With the Bruins on the cusp of the Stanley Cup Finals and the Celtics hoping to conjure some more lottery magic, only an extraordinary performance could divert fans to an interleague baseball game, and hot damn if Sale didn't deliver.

Even with mist falling and the mercury dropping, Sale made Fenway Park crackle. He emphatically dispelled the notion that he is even remotely diminished by delivering his best outing in a Red Sox uniform, which is saying something.

Broadcaster Dennis Eckersley called it the best performance he had ever seen. Rockies slugger Nolan Arenado believed he was reliving the nightmare of Clayton Kershaw's 15-strikeout 2014 no-hitter. Red Sox manager Alex Cora admitted that a piece of him wanted to send Sale back out for the eighth inning and a shot at 20 strikeouts. And Sale?

"It was awesome," he said. "I love this game."

The record will show Brandon Workman served up the go-ahead two-run homer to Charlie Blackmon to deny Sale the win before the Rockies won it on Mark Reynolds' single in the 11th. But history will remember the game very differently because, on this night, Sale performed at a level matched perhaps only by Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens in a Red Sox uniform. If there's been a similar game in the last 20 years, it was Pedro dropping a 1-0 decision to Steve Trachsel, of all people, while striking out 17 himself in May of 2000.

"That was fun to watch," Cora said of Sale. "The first time being in something like that, you know? Watching the strikeouts and watching the pitch count. You want him to go as deep as possible."

Sale's velocity, the barometer by which we gauged him in his terrible start, was hardly vintage. He hit 96 mph once on the stadium gun, though Baseball Savant technically had the pitch at 95.9 mph. He threw only 10 fastballs above 94 mph, instead content to treat the Rockies like so many cats swatting at so much yarn.

His slider was otherworldly, alternately sweeping, darting, and biting. The Rockies only touched two of his 12 changeups, including a foul ball. He threw but one curveball, which Pat Valaika dutifully flailed at for strikeout No. 8 to end the third inning. He had pinpoint command of his entire arsenal.

You want mastery? This was mastery.

"When he went eight of nine to start the game, he could've had no fielders out there and we'd still have been losing," Reynolds said.

Sale made but one mistake, and Arenado didn't miss it, sneaking a 92 mph fastball into the Monster seats to pull the Rockies within a run at 3-2 in the seventh. 

Sale kicked himself for trying to get a double play grounder against a superstar. Arenado breathed a sigh of relief.

"It was getting a little scary there," he said. "I thought a no-hitter was coming. In '14 we faced Kershaw and he threw a no-hitter at home and it was kind of like that, where he was just kind of dominant. I feel like we kind of just stole that one.

"What he did today was pretty unique. He struck out a lot of us."

Sale recorded strikeouts with every one of his pitches: four-seamer, two-seamer, slider, curve, change. Colorado had no idea what was coming as he constantly varied his plan of attack.

"A lot of people were worried and making a deal about him not pitching well at the beginning of the year, but over the course of a season he's going to be dominant, and you saw that tonight," said Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta. "That kind of stuff, all you have to do is throw strikes and he was definitely throwing strikes, and on top of that, he was throwing quality strikes. We have a really good team and a really good lineup, but he's a great pitcher. And great pitching always shuts down a great offense."

Sale wanted to come back out for the eighth despite being at 108 pitches, joking with Cora, "You're not going to let me get 20?" But the manager has two handshakes for his starters, and he gave Sale the one that said, "You're done."

"I don't think there's a pitcher on the planet, you've got 17 punchouts, you definitely want to go out for the last inning, but I respect him as much as anybody on the planet and I'll never question anything he does," Sale said.

Sale instead settled for the first seven-inning, 17-strikeout start in major league history. Coming on the heels of a brilliant 14-strikeout effort against the Orioles, it was the kind of performance that makes you want to fast-forward five days just to see what magic Sale has planned for us next.

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