Clemens in search of win No. 350

Clemens in search of win No. 350

When Roger Clemens walked off the field in the 2003 World Series, his career apparently concluding with an effort against the Florida Marlins, the Cooperstown-bound future Hall of Famer said he was content with his place in history.

Everyone in the stadium that night believed The Rocket was lifting off into the history books, his storied career coming to a conclusion. Even Clemens said he was 99.9 percent retired.

Flash-forward to 2007, and lo and behold, Clemens is still pitching, still effective and still in pursuit of milestones. He'll try for career victory No. 350 on Thursday, firing in the finale of a three-game Interleague series with the Colorado Rockies.

"Everything is a blessing for me since I tipped my cap three or four years ago," Clemens said. "I was real comfortable with my situation. Since then, I'm glad I left that percentage point open. I've been very blessed. A lot of neat things have come my way since."

Clemens will be vying to become the first Major League pitcher to win 350 games since Warren Spahn did it in 1963. Then again, Clemens has larger issues on his mind: With the Yankees limited to just two runs through their first 18 innings at Coors Field, Clemens will head out in search of snapping a two-game skid and avoiding a series sweep at the hands of the hot Rockies.

Clemens has pitched just three times at Coors Field, where he is 1-0 with a 3.78 ERA, and once as a Yankee -- in 2002, when the Bombers put up 41 runs in the three-game set.

The landscape has obviously changed a bit, and Clemens even tapped a few sources for information: Before Tuesday's series opener, the right-hander sought out former Astros teammate Willy Taveras to find out more about the ballpark's humidor.

"I'm going to try and improve on everything I'm doing," Clemens said. "My work in between is as important to how I'm going to continue to stay strong through September and October. That's the morning work that I'm doing, where I'm at, and stuff that I do during the days is just as important as going out there pitching."

Posada glowed after Clemens' last start, seeing signs of improvement.

"I thought his fastball was better, I thought his location was a lot better," Posada said. "The slider, he's still working on that, but there was a big difference."

Clemens said that he wouldn't change much to deal with Coors Field's expanses, though he might tweak things right before game time with Posada.

"I have to go with what my strengths are when I warm up on Thursday," Clemens said. "Jorge and I will talk about it and go from there. We'll come out and see how I'm feeling."

The start will be Clemens' third for the Yankees after three Minor League efforts and one aborted relaunch, a scratched start at Chicago due to a fatigued right groin.

Clemens, who still has yet to face an American League team this year, defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in his comeback on June 9 and lost to the Mets on June 15, though Yankees manager Joe Torre said that Clemens was sharper than expected in his Subway Series performance at Yankee Stadium.

"You don't pitch at his age without knowing how to prepare both physically and mentally," Torre said. "He just appears like he's really pleased to be here. I know he's a huge get for us, especially with what we're trying to do here. With the consistency, he's very important."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Roger Clemens (1-1, 3.65 ERA)
Clemens has struck out at least one batter in 199 consecutive starts, the third-longest streak in the Majors behind Pedro Martinez's 293 and Javier Vazquez's 236. He is just the ninth player in history to pitch in as many as 24 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

COL: RHP Rodrigo Lopez (3-0, 2.90 ERA)
Lopez makes his eighth start of the season for Colorado. The Rockies have garnered five quality starts from Lopez and have gone 6-1 in his starts this season, winning five straight. He has made 19 career starts against the Yankees.

Player to watch
Matt Holliday, who homered on Wednesday off Clemens' buddy Andy Pettitte, sees The Rocket well, too. He's 2-for-3 with a home run against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Yankees (Kei Igawa, 2-1, 7.63) at Giants (Matt Cain, 2-7, 3.15), 10:15 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 7-4, 3.33) at Giants (Matt Morris, 7-4, 3.21), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 3-4, 5.10) at Giants (Noah Lowry, 6-6, 3.74), 4:05 p.m. ET

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