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Posada thrilled to catch No. 300
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06/14/2003  1:18 AM ET 
Posada thrilled to catch No. 300
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Jorge Posada congratulates Roger Clemens after he picked up his 300th win Friday. (Ed Betz/AP)
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NEW YORK -- When Jorge Posada caught Roger Clemens' 4,000th strikeout in the second inning of Friday's game, he wasn't satisfied.

Yes, the All-Star catcher had just received a milestone pitch, marking just the third time in history a hurler had whiffed 4,000 hitters, but Posada had a different number on his mind.

"I wanted to catch 300," Posada said. "4,000 came with everything else, but 300 is what I wanted."

Seven innings later, when Posada watched Jason Giambi scoop up Miguel Cairo's ground ball and step on first, he got his wish, as Clemens became the 21st man in Major League history to reach the 300-win plateau.

"We wanted to get the 'W,' play a good game," Posada said. "The atmosphere was awesome. It felt like a World Series game."

With the win, Posada has caught 59 of Clemens' victories, tying him with Tony Pena for the most ever. Posada has caught 119 of Clemens' 586 starts, the most of any backstop. Rich Gedman ranks third on both lists, catching 54 wins in 94 starts. Pena caught Clemens 111 times.

"Jorge and I talked about this two years ago, sitting in a weight room in Tampa," Clemens said. "We talked about this moment, and it finally happened."

Posada drove in the first run of Friday's game, but his biggest contribution came behind the plate, where he guided Clemens through 6 2/3 innings on a cold, wet night in the Bronx.

"He was overpowering," Posada said of Clemens, who struck out 10. "He was throwing a lot of fastballs. He couldn't throw the splitter because the ball was slipping out of his hands. He threw a lot of fastballs and sliders, especially to right-handed batters."

One of those strikeouts was by Edgar Renteria, giving Clemens 4,000 in his career. After the milestone K, Posada walked to the mound, shook Clemens' hand and presented him with the ball, which was handed off to a bat boy for safe keeping.

"It was great," Clemens said. "It brought me out of what we were doing when I saw him walking out. It clicked right there why he was walking out. It was nice for him to do that. Then we tried to get back in the flow."

According to Clemens, that flow was an easy one on Friday. With a runner on second base in the second, fourth and sixth innings, the battery-mates didn't even need signs to call their pitches, relying on their immense knowledge of each other -- and a simple look.

"There are times where we can look at each other and he doesn't even have to give me a sign," Clemens said. "It happened about six times today with a man on second, where we could call the game by just looking at one another. When you have that going on, it's a great thing. He's been tremendous."

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Posada caught all four of Clemens' attempts at 300, but Posada said the quest wasn't wearing him down.

"It didn't matter how many times he had to try, it's a big-time achievement for somebody who has been amazing for the game," Posada said. "He deserves it. He worked hard enough to get it. It is a great feeling, the guys stepped up and got him some runs."

Posada, who has caught World Series clinchers and David Wells' perfect game, was ecstatic to be a part of Clemens' milestone. Even more importantly, he has been a major part of the Rocket's career.

"I didn't believe I'd have a chance to be a part of his career," Posada said. "I'm very happy to have been there."

Manager Joe Torre, a former catcher who was behind the plate for Warren Spahn's 300th win in 1961, said that the bond between catcher and pitcher is unlike any other in the game.

"He hugged him every chance he had after this thing was over," Torre said of Clemens. "The catcher feels instrumental, like you helped along, because you're back there and the pitcher has to have confidence. These two have worked together, and it took a little time to get that comfort level, but tonight was special."

Torre gave Clemens the lineup card from the game, while each of Clemens' four sons scooped some dirt from the stadium mound. But Clemens, an avid collector of baseball memorabilia had another item on his mind.

"Maybe Jorge will give me his glove," Clemens said. "It's his game glove, so maybe at the end of the year."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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