HOUSTON - Roger Clemens watched Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and the rest of the St. Louis sluggers dig into the batter’s box and take big whacks at Busch Stadium.
Chances are, Cardinals hitters will be a bit more jumpy when they step to the plate at Minute Maid Park.
Clemens is on the mound today for Game 3 of the NL championship series, and the whole Houston season is riding on his right arm. The Astros trail 2-0, beaten up by a powerful lineup that also includes Larry Walker and Jim Edmonds.
Clemens has never been shy about pitching inside, especially in October. And usually right from the get-go.
In other words: Look out, Cards.
‘‘I always feel, as a pitcher, everybody’s too comfortable,’’ Clemens said Friday, smiling. ‘‘Their job as a hitter is to be comfortable. Your job as a pitcher is you don’t want them to feel comfortable up there.’’
Then, his eyes narrowed.
‘‘You’ll notice during the game that if I’m making good pitches and guys are getting their nose out where they might not should be, then you’ll have to adjust,’’ he said. ‘‘Simple as that.’’
After losing games started by unheralded Brandon Backe and Pete Munro, the Astros get their best chance to climb back into the best-of-seven series.
Clemens, a top Cy Young candidate after going 18-4 at age 42, will be followed in the rotation by Roy Oswalt, the NL’s only 20-game winner. Both of them went 2-0 against the Cardinals this season.
‘‘Obviously, having the home-field advantage and now having a 2-0 lead is big when you got to go against Clemens and Oswalt,’’ Walker said.
Jeff Suppan starts Game 3 for St. Louis, followed by Jason Marquis.
Meanwhile, St. Louis reliever Steve Kline went to Indianapolis to see a hand specialist Friday.
Kline aggravated a torn tendon in the index finger of his throwing hand Thursday night in Game 2 after he allowed two straight singles.