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September 28, 2007 at 10:42 PM

Clement wins it in the ninth; hear audio

Make that a pair of ninth-inning homers in three days for Jeff Clement, this latest one a two-run, walkoff blast in the ninth to defeat the Texas Rangers 6-4. Clement had company on his trot around the basepaths.
A jubilant Yuniesky Betancourt, thinking Clement had just hit a game-winning, ground-rule double, ran out to second to greet him. But Clement kept heading to third, with Betancourt chasing after him. It was finally when he got to third that Betancourt realized it was actually a home run ball.
He was, naturally, ridiculed for his jaunt — sure to be replayed quite a bit — by his teammates in the clubhouse. Clement got a beer shower from teammates. He’s certainly making a case for himself. That kind of power from a lefty bat at Safeco Field, as John McLaren said before the game, is going to be tough to overlook.
“I came back in here and everybody was laughing,” said Clement, who hadn’t realized Betancourt was following him around the bases. “I was wondering if it was just at the way I run. I had no idea what it was. I’m looking forward to seeing it (the replay) just to see that.”
Clement knows he’s helping his own chances as much as his team’s. But he did his best to sound humble about it.
“When I first got here, we were struggling a little bit,” Clement said. “I’m just happy to do something with the opportunities I’ve been given. I was thankful and fortunate to be in those situations and do something with them.”
Hear Clement on audio right here.
Mariners manager McLaren was pretty high on Clement afterwards, naturally, much as he’d been pre-game.
“Jeff’s come through for us big-time,” he said. “He’s got some deafening thunder in that bat like we talked about before the game. He’s letting his presence be known.”
Hear him speak right here.
So, what do you think? Can Clement make a surprise run at joining this team as early as next spring? We’ll see. His bat is intriguing if he can go deep like this. Jose Vidro, who knocked in the tying run in the eighth as a pinch-hitter, has an .876 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the second half.
That’s very good. If Vidro does that over a full season, that’s excellent production. The question is whether he can. Vidro has only six homers all year, four more than Clement has managed in three days. In other words, Vidro needs to keep the OPS high to remain an effective DH.
Anyway, it makes for great competition, if the first base/DH route is where the team plans to go with Clement. Also, assuming he isn’t traded first.
Vidro, as always, was a class act after the game.
“We’re just glad that the man came through and gave us the win,” Vidro said. “It’s a thrill. Especially for a young guy who’s come in and been swinging the bat great.”

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