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The Boston Globe

Sports

From the archives | July 15

Roger Clemens K’s 16 as Morgan Magic begins

Whoa. Don’t pull out that Bruins exhibition schedule just yet. Can’t you keep that Celtics painter’s cap in the closet for a few more weeks, at least until the dawg days of August?

Smithfield? You’re going to Smithfield? What are they doing down in Smithfield these days?

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C’mon, we’re still almost three months from the Fall Classic, and believe it or not, there may be some baseball life in the Back Bay after all. Mac’s been sacked. And for a night, anyway, Morgan’s Heroes looked as if they actually enjoyed playing the game.

They also won, not once but twice. Roger Clemens rocketed his way to 16 strikeouts in a 3-1 victory in the opener. Rick Cerone and Wade Boggs hit homers to back a 7-4 triumph in the nightcap, giving the Sox a doubleheader sweep of the Kansas City Royals before a crowd of 35,412 last night at Fenway Park.

In two games, Joe Morgan used every one of his bench players. In Game 2, he took care of any atrophy in the bullpen by using Dennis Lamp, Tom Bolton, Bob Stanley and Lee Smith in relief of Mike Smithson (4-3).

“Hey, Roger’s some act to follow, isn’t he?” said Smithson. “I mean, 16 strikeouts -- I don’t get 16 strikeouts in a month. After that, it must have looked like I was throwing about 75 miles an hour out there.”

Humor. Need we say more? In came Morgan, apparently bringing some fresh air with him. The move in which Morgan replaced the fired John McNamara Thursday may not have solved all the Sox’ problems (they stranded 15 runners in the two games), but overall, they were hustling more and looking sharper, especially for a team that hadn’t played since Sunday. Even baseball expert Jean Yawkey could be seen smiling from behind her glass wall.

“Like I’ve said before, winning cures almost everything,” said All-Star Mike Greenwell after Boston’s first sweep since last September. “Joe Morgan does a good job. He keeps everyone loose, he’s a good motivator and people respect him -- they’ll give extra to see the guy do well.”

No one could have done more than Clemens in the opener. He fanned three in the first, two in the second and three in the third.

There may not be any adjectives, superlatives or what-have-yous left to describe everything Clemens does, is, has been or will be. Isn’t there someone in New York they call Dr. K? Please, let’s be serious. If he’s Dr. K, let’s change the Bambino’s name to Dr. Ruth. Goot, veddy goot, don’t you think?

By the sixth, Clemens was talking about maybe bowing out after one more inning. Instead, he notched his ninth complete game by retiring the last five

Royals on -- you got it -- strikeouts. Danny Tartabull, Frank White and Bo Jackson went down in a fanning finish.

Moments after running his record to 13-5, lifting his strikeout total to a major league-leading 202 and lowering his earned run average to 2.35, Clemens dropped the game ball in Morgan’s hand.

“Every one of his starts, you feel, ‘We’ve got this one in the sack,’ “ said Morgan.

In Game 2, Morgan had trouble on his doorstep right away. The Royals got a run in the first, but the Sox took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning. By the third, they had a 4-1 lead and Morgan didn’t really have to begin managing until the sixth -- when the Sox had a 6-1 lead, on the strength of the homers by Boggs (solo shot in the second) and Cerone (two-runner in the fifth).

“Well, we won a couple of games,” said Morgan, who will have to prove his mettle to keep the managing job on more than an interim basis. “But let’s put it this way . . . I’ll manage better.”

Morgan faulted himself for going one batter too many (a Danny Tartabull two-run homer) with Smithson, allowing the Royals to close within 6-3. “It got ‘em back in the ballgame,” said Morgan.

Along the way, Jim Rice (5 for 6 in the doubleheader) got back in the ballgame, too. Rice also broke up a double play that led to a key run in Game 1. The Sox averaged 11 hits per game, saw Smith come in for a nice save (No. 12) and even nudged a little closer to the Yankees and Tigers in the American League East.

All of sudden, Lansdowne Street is no longer a condemned area. The Adams Division, Larry’s jumper and Eason’s shoulder may just have to wait a little bit.

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