Pedro Martinez: Trading Card Database

May 28, 2000: Pedro Martinez, Red Sox defeat Roger Clemens, Yankees in a game for the ages

This article was written by Alan Raylesberg

 Pedro Martinez: Trading Card DatabaseThe game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox on May 28, 2000, was one of the most anticipated regular-season games of that era. As pitching matchups go, it did not get any better. Roger Clemens, the former Red Sox ace, squared off against Pedro Martinez, the current Red Sox ace, in a showdown between two pitchers who were then earmarked for the Hall of Fame. Yankee Stadium was sold out for this Sunday night nationally televised game, with the two teams tied for first place in the American League East Division. Those in attendance, and those watching at home, were about to see one of those rare instances where a game lived up to the hype.

During the 2000 season, the Yankees and the Red Sox were in the throes of one of baseball’s greatest rivalries. The Yankees were the two-time defending World Series champions, having won the fall classic in three of the previous four years (1996, 1998, 1999). They finished first in the AL East in each of those seasons, and in 1998 and 1999 the Red Sox finished second. In 1999 Boston finished only four games behind New York in the regular season before losing to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

May 28 was the final game of a three-game series between the two teams. The Red Sox won the opener on Friday night, 4-1, to take a one-game lead over the Yankees. The Yankees took the Saturday game, 8-3, to restore the tie.1 That set the stage for the deciding game of the series, with first place on the line and the Clemens vs. Martinez matchup taking center stage. The two had faced each other only once before, in Game Three of the 1999 American League Championship Series, a game won by the Red Sox, 13-1, as Martinez struck out 12 in seven innings and Clemens allowed five runs in two innings.2

Clemens began his career with the Red Sox in 1984 and pitched for them over 13 seasons. In that span, he won three Cy Young Awards.3 Leaving Boston in free agency after the 1996 season, he pitched two seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, winning two more Cy Young Awards, before joining the Yankees in 1999, at the age of 36.4

Martinez came to the Red Sox in 1998, after six seasons with the Dodgers and Expos. At age 25, he won the Cy Young Award in 1997, pitching for the Expos.5 After winning 19 games for the Red Sox in 1998, Martinez led the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts for the 1999 Red Sox, garnering his second Cy Young Award.6 The 27-year-old Martinez was off to a great start in 2000, with a record of 7-2 and an ERA of 1.19 as play began on May 28.7

With two of the greatest pitchers of their generation going head-to-head at Yankee Stadium, Dan Shaughnessy wrote in the Boston Globe that “in this lifetime we are not likely to see a better early-season matchup.”8 The fact that Clemens was the former Boston ace and Martinez the current one only added to the drama. Shaughnessy characterized it as “Ali-Frazier on God’s green grass.”9

The game did not disappoint, as both Clemens and Martinez were nearly flawless. Both teams were scoreless through eight innings, with each pitcher allowing only three hits; Clemens struck out 13, and Martinez 8.10 It was as if each pitcher was trying to outdo the other.

Scoring opportunities were few and far between. After Derek Jeter singled off Martinez with one out in the first, he was erased on a double play. Shane Spencer drew a leadoff walk in the third before Martinez retired the next three batters. In the fourth, Jeter got the Yankees’ second hit, a leadoff double, but was stranded when the next three batters were retired on two strikeouts and a popup. Ricky Ledee singled with two out in the fifth and stole second but was left there when Martinez retired the next batter. Martinez retired the Yankees in order in each of the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.

The Red Sox fared no better against Clemens. After he retired the side in the first, Carl Everett singled with one out in the second. Clemens picked him off first, then got the third out on a strikeout. Clemens retired the next 11 batters, striking out seven of them, before John Valentin singled with one out in the sixth. Valentin was caught stealing and the next batter struck out. In the seventh, Trot Nixon tripled with one out and the Red Sox had the best scoring opportunity of the game. Clemens struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

In the ninth, Clemens retired Valentin for the first out. Jason Varitek tried to bunt his way on, but Clemens made the play for out number two. Jeff Frye then singled, bringing Nixon to the plate. The count went to 2-and-1. With the crowd cheering Clemens on, Nixon hit one deep to right field. The ball sailed into the seats for a two-run home run as the Yankees fans suddenly got quiet, and it felt as though the air had come out of the Stadium.11 Clemens retired the next batter, but the damage was done.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees rallied. Chuck Knoblauch was hit by a pitch and Jeter singled to right (his third hit off Martinez), putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Martinez struck out Paul O’Neill for his ninth strikeout. Bernie Williams hit one deep to right field, but Nixon caught it in front of the fence, with Knoblauch taking third on the play. Jeter then stole second; Jorge Posada was hit by a pitch; and now the bases were loaded with two out for Tino Martinez. The fans were on their feet and the game was on the line. There was no Yankees comeback as Tino Martinez grounded out, second to first, and the game was over.

Boston had a 2-0 win to take over first place.12 Martinez had pitched a four-hit shutout, with one walk and nine strikeouts. Clemens had allowed only five hits, walked none, and struck out 13, and was just one Trot Nixon swing away from a shutout of his own.13

After the game, both pitchers recognized the magnitude of what had just taken place. “It’s good for baseball,” Martinez said. “The fans came out and clapped for both of us. … We were feeding off each other the whole game.”14 Clemens said, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be. … It was a fun game to pitch in. The intensity was every bit what it was supposed to be.”15 On the ESPN telecast of the game, Joe Morgan16 commented that a lot of people like to see home runs and high-scoring games, “but I’ll tell you what this is a baseball game. You’re seeing two pitchers at the top of their craft.”17

As Yankees manager Joe Torre said, after the game, “It was a classic.”18 The Boston Globe described it as “one of the greatest regular season games in 100 years of American League play.”19 “That’s the best regular-season game I’ve ever seen … one for the ages,” said Boston pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.20 On the ESPN broadcast, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan compared the game to the “1912 duel of the year” between Walter Johnson and Smoky Joe Wood at Fenway Park.21 When the game ended, Miller remarked that Clemens and Martinez had given fans “baseball’s version of a night to remember.”22

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, the importance of the game, and the fact that the two pitchers were all-time greats, combined to make the May 28, 2000, game one of the most memorable regular-season games in the long and storied history of Yankee Stadium.

At season’s end, the Yankees finished first, 2½ games ahead of the Red Sox. They beat Oakland, three games to two, in the Division Series, beat Seattle in a four-game ALCS, and needed just five games to beat the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series. Clemens finished the season 13-8 (3.70). Though he lost both games he pitched in the ALDS, he shut out Seattle in Game Four of the ALCS and won Game Two of the World Series.


Author’s Note

The author attended the game, with his family, in an Upper Tier Box at Yankee Stadium, in fair territory in left field. While far from home plate, the author had a clear view and still vividly recalls the moment when Trot Nixon hit his ninth-inning home run off Clemens to break the scoreless tie and silence the Yankees fans.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted and



1 Coming into the game on May 28, each team had a record of 27-18.

2 Clemens was disappointed about how that game transpired. When asked about it prior to the May 28 rematch against Martinez, Clemens said, “I just pitched poorly and we’ll leave it at that.” Buster Olney, “Martinez Stands and Delivers for the Red Sox,” New York Times, May 29, 2000: D1.

3 Clemens won the Cy Young Award, while with the Red Sox, in 1986, 1987, and 1991. He was also the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1986. During his Red Sox years, he also led the AL (or tied for the lead) in wins twice, in ERA four times, in complete games twice, in shutouts five times, and in strikeouts three times. In his 1986 MVP season, he was 24-4 with a league-leading 2.48 ERA.

4 In his first season with Toronto, in 1997, Clemens led the league in wins (21-7), ERA (2.05), innings pitched (264, tied for lead), and strikeouts (292). He was sensational again in 1998, as he tied for the AL lead in wins (20-6) and led the AL in ERA (2.65) and strikeouts (271). After the 1998 season Clemens was traded to the Yankees. In his first season with the Yankees, 1999, Clemens was 14-10 with a 4.60 ERA, the highest ERA of his career. He went on to have some good seasons with the Yankees, including 2001, when he was 20-3 with a 3.51 ERA and won the Cy Young Award. He pitched five seasons for New York before leaving in free agency to join the Houston Astros in the 2004 season. In his first season with Houston, at age 41, he won another Cy Young Award to give him a career total of seven Cy Young Awards, the most by any pitcher in history. Clemens pitched four seasons for Houston before returning to the Yankees as a free agent in 2007, his final season. His career performance (which included 354 wins) would certainly appear to qualify him for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. However, his career was tainted by his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, a factor that has prevented him from being elected, at least as of October 2022.

5 Martinez was 17-8 with a league-leading 1.90 ERA. After the 1997 season, the Expos traded him to the Red Sox for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas.

6 In his 1999 Cy Young-winning season, Martinez was 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts in 213⅓ innings. Martinez pitched seven seasons for the Red Sox before signing with the Mets as a free agent beginning with the 2005 season. He played for the Mets through 2008 before finishing his career with the Phillies in 2009. Martinez won the Cy Young Award three times (1997, 1999, and 2000). His performance from 1997 through 2003 was one of the most dominant stretches of pitching in history. During those seven seasons, he led the league in ERA five times. Martinez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.

7 Clemens came into the game with a record of 4-4 and an ERA of 4.26.

8 Dan Shaughnessy, “Pedro Bests Rival Again,” Boston Globe, May 29, 2000: E1.

9 Shaughnessy.

10 At the time, Clemens held the major-league strikeout record of 20 in a nine-inning game, having done it twice for the Red Sox, on April 29, 1986, and September 18, 1996. Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs also struck out 20 on May 6, 1998. In 2016 Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals became the third pitcher in history to strike out 20 in a nine-inning game. Clemens also had 18 strikeouts in a nine-inning game on August 25, 1998, for Toronto. Tom Cheney of the Washington Senators struck out 21 batters in 16 innings on September 12, 1962; Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks struck out 20 in nine innings, in a game that went 11 innings on May 8, 2001.

11 There were plenty of Red Sox fans in the sellout crowd, who cheered loudly as the Yankees fans sank into their seats.

12 The Yankees would go on to win the AL East with a record of 87-74, with Boston second at 85-77. Boston did not make the postseason, as Seattle was the wild card with a 91-71 record.

13 Martinez improved his record to 8-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.05. With the defeat, Clemens was 4-5 while lowering his ERA to 3.97. Martinez threw 128 pitches, Clemens 127. Martinez finished the 2000 season with a record of 18-6 and a league-leading 1.74 ERA, together with a league-leading 284 strikeouts. Martinez won the Cy Young Award for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons.

14 Shaughnessy.

15 Shira Springer, “Clemens Sure Has Not Lost It,” Boston Globe, May 29, 2000: E8.

16 Morgan, a Hall of Fame second baseman, was the commentator on the broadcast.

17 Chad Jennings, “Distant Replay: The Night Pedro Martinez Beat Roger Clemens in Duel for the Ages,” The Athletic, April 17, 2020,

18 Olney, “Martinez Stands and Delivers for the Red Sox.” Torre also said. “It was an inspired performance on both sides, and somebody had to lose, unfortunately. It was a great game. … It definitely was a playoff atmosphere. The players felt it. Everybody was pumped up.” Shira Springer, “Clemens Sure Has Not Lost It,” Boston Globe, May 29, 2000: E8.

19 Shaughnessy, “Pedro Bests Rival Again.”

20 Shaughnessy.

21 Jennings. See also Emil Rothe, “The War of 1912: The Wood-Johnson Duel,” published in SABR’s 1974 Baseball Research Journal,

22 Jennings, “Distant Replay: The Night Pedro Martinez Beat Roger Clemens in Duel for the Ages.”

Additional Stats

Boston Red Sox 2
New York Yankees 0

Yankee Stadium
New York, NY


Box Score + PBP:

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