05/19/2002 5:52 pm ET
Kinney falls short versus Clemens
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Young Twins starter Matt Kinney went toe-to-toe with the legendary Roger Clemens for five innings Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Unfortunately, when "The Rocket" is loaded with plenty of fuel and dealing like he was, it eventually becomes too difficult to keep up with him.
"Our pitcher threw good. Just not as good as 'The Rocket,'" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "'Rocket' was good today. We had a tough time today hitting the Rocket."
Kinney allowed three runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings but was on the losing end of a 3-0 shutout to the Yankees. Meanwhile, Clemens struck out 13 Twins and allowed just four singles. It was the first time Minnesota failed to get an extra-base hit in 33 games.
"A guy like Roger, you don't make your money off of," said Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, a three-time strikeout victim Sunday. "If I was to get a hit, it was a bonus."
While Clemens was doing his thing, Kinney was getting the job done. He did begin the game by allowing a leadoff bunt single by Alfonso Soriano. After a stolen base and an error sent him to third, Derek Jeter drove Soriano in to put Kinney in a 1-0 hole.
But, things went much smoother for Kinney after that and he held his own. Through the fifth inning, he allowed only three more singles and struck out six.
"He threw too many pitches early in the game -– I think thirty-something in the first inning," Gardenhire said. "After that, he settled down and threw the ball over the plate. He used his breaking ball better and kept them off balance. He didn't give them any cookies to hit."
With 53,000 Yankees fans packing the ballpark, Kinney said that his adrenaline was flowing. Despite the setting and the big stage, he said he was able to control the energy and focus.
"You don't worry about that when you're out there," Kinney said.
While Kinney was holding his end of the bargain vs. the formidable Yankees lineup, the Twins lineup could do little vs. Clemens, who fanned eight through five innings. The 39-year-old right-hander was trying to tie former Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven with 287 wins, 22nd on the all-time list.
Blyleven was in attendance performing his duties as the Twins' TV analyst.
"It was great to happen with Minnesota here and for Bert to be in the ballpark," Clemens said. "It's a real honor and was a treat for me."
Clemens' stuff was no treat to face if you're a Twins hitter. Second baseman Denny Hocking was caught looking three times for strikeouts.
"These guys had a chance to sweep us in a series with Clemens going. Of course he's going to be pumped up," Hocking said. "I didn't expect anything less out of him today. He pitched like Roger Clemens is supposed to pitch."
Clemens dominance for the other side didn't fluster Kinney's performance.
"I'm not pitching against Clemens," Kinney said. "I'm pitching against (Jason) Giambi, Jeter and all those guys. Clemens isn't pitching against me. He's pitching against our lineup. Our team just didn't get the lucky break. We've won a lot of games scoring runs against good pitching … we were this close a couple of times today to scoring some runs. You can't worry about that. I can only control what I do."
Kinney reached the end of the line with one out in the sixth inning. After New York's Jorge Posada singled to left field, Robin Ventura took a first-pitch sinker and hit a home run into the right field seats to make it a 3-0 game.
"It was down and away," Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He just short-porched us. I don't know what else he could have done."
The next batter, John Vander Wal, followed with a blooper to center. The hit landed out of the reach of three players in shallow center field for a single. Kinney had thrown his 103rd pitch and Gardenhire decided it was time to remove his starter but wasn't disappointed with Kinney's outing.
"Our guy threw good for six innings," Gardenhire said. "I thought he threw outstanding, great ballgame. The pitch he made on Robin Ventura was a good pitch and Robin hooked it out of the ballpark. We're in the (Metrodome), it's off the baggie."
This isn't the first time Kinney has brought good stuff against the Yankees. He faced the Bronx Bombers once in the 2000 season.
"It's weird," Kinney said. "I pitched against the Yankees twice. (Both on) a Sunday vs. Clemens."
After the loss on this Sunday, the Twins were swept in the weekend series and fell to 0-6 vs. the Yankees this season. Although almost all of the games were good battles, Gardenhire takes little consolation over only having near-victories.
"We want to win. We think we can beat the Yankees," Gardenhire said. "We just have to a little better offensively. I don't like to lose."
Gardenhire and several players are hopeful that there will be a post-season rematch against New York. Until then, no thanks.
"I actually like coming here and playing against the Yankees, but I'm glad we don't have to play those guys anymore," Gardenhire said.
Mark Sheldon covers the Twins for MLB.com and can be reached at
This article was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.