Rocket launch in Toronto is a huge success

• Roger Clemens strikes out nine Chicago White Sox hitters and goes the distance in a 6-1 Blue Jays victory.


Associated Press

TORONTO--New blue uniform same tough Roger Clemens.

Clemens buzzed a fastball past Frank Thomas' head in the first inning, then got Albert Belle on a double-play grounder with the bases loaded to end the eighth, winning his Toronto debut last night by beating the Chicago White Sox 6-1.

Clemens earned his first career victory with the Blue Jays--his other 192, along with three A.L. Cy Young Awards, came in 13 years with Boston. He pitched a six-hitter, struck out nine and walked one in the AL's first complete game this season.

Benito Santiago put Toronto ahead 3-1 in the fourth with his first AL hit, a two-run homer off Wilson Alvarez. Orlando Merced, another Blue Jays newcomer, broke open the game with a threerun double in the seventh.

A crowd of 31,310, about 6,000 more than Toronto drew in its second home game last season, clapped every time Clemens got two strikes on a batter. The 34-year-old righthander often rewarded his fans.

Clemens, who left the Red Sox for a $24.75 million, three-year deal in Toronto, took the mound to start the game as "Rocket Man" by Elton John played on the SkyDome sound system. He took one deep breath before his first warmup pitch, and went to work.

Clemens struck out Tony Phillips to begin the night and then, two batters later, zipped a fastball up-and-in that backed Thomas away from the plate.

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