Anyone remember Matt Clement? He was a plus-stuff wonky control guy back in the late 90s, early aughts whom you could confuse with A.J. Burnett. In fact, at one point, he and Burnett were on the same pitching staff — the 2001 Marlins — the same season that Burnett threw an 8-walk no-hitter against Clement’s former team, the Padres.
But this is about Clement, and I meant what I said about the plus-stuff wonky control guy. In his regular season career, he had 650 walks and 1,217 strikeouts in 1,412.2 innings. In 2000, he walked 125 hitters in 205 innings. That’s remarkable, but just goes to show how much strikeout stuff will keep a guy in the big leagues. Then again, he threw his final pitch with the Red Sox in 2006.
That was three years after the best start of his career, the 15th anniversary of which happens to be today. It was at Wrigley Field against the Giants, who were in the midst of a wire-to-wire first place finish in the National League West. He posted a Game Score of 89, thanks to a complete game 2-hit, 2-walk, 8 strikeout performance.
The Giants didn’t run out a getaway day lineup against Clement. They attacked at full strength, with Bonds batting cleanup. Moises Alou hit a 3-run home run off of Damian Moss in the first inning, and those were the only runs of the game.
Clement had many other good starts previous to this one, but this was the best. And the Giants lineup, for as much as we’d like to talk about Bonds at the peak of his powers (this was the season that preceded his pornographic 2004 line), the Giants’ offense posted a 100 wRC+. Pretty amazing when you think about having a once in a lifetime hitter on a team that posts an exactly league average stat line. Almost makes you wonder how the team would look without him in it.
Point is, anything can happen at any time. The Giants could get shutout today and the rest of the week, and then proceed to score 200 runs over the final two months of the season (believe me: that’s a good thing, given their circumstances). Intriguing talent will sometimes have its day, too.