Eight and two-thirds innings. Nine strikeouts, 0 walks. Was it enough? Did Matt Clement’s near-complete game put him in the driver’s seat for the final spot on the 2005 all-star team? The answer must be a resounding “Hell yeah!”

Assuming, of course, the Gambler does the right thing and gives up his tainted spot.

Last night was a tough situation for Clement. Coming off his worst performance of the year, facing a deadly Rangers line-up in the heat of Texas, the bullpen in shambles, and all eyes watching in case an all-start spot becomes available. And man, did he step up to the task.

After 7 innings with the score 7-4 and 104 pitches in the books, he’s put in a good night’s work. When he came out in the eighth with Teixeira, Blalock and Soriano due up, it was time to line up the shot glasses and tape up the windows. Seven pitches later, Clement was ambling towards the dugout. And while the Sox batted in the ninth, nobody was up in the pen. Yes, he came out in the ninth looking for his second CG of the season. Two quick outs later, Alomar singled and Tito didn’t hesitate to pull Clement. While the complete game would have been nice, and seeing Embree come in conjures up images of a long, sleepless night, he got the job done and secured the win for Honest Matt. And maybe an all-star spot.

A few observations about this game.

Texas has a few players I would love to see in Red Sox uni’s.

Soriano: Seeing him at the plate, his stance like a coiled spring, just looks dangerous to any team that has to pitch to him. In contrast, if I have to watch Bellhorn strike out looking and stare dumbfounded after the pitch for a few seconds one more time, I may start taking hostages.

Laynce Nix: This guy covers a lot of centerfield real estate in Arlington. He’s only 24 and if his hitting improves a bit, he’s a potential star.

Francisco Cordero: A menacing closer that hurls 98mph fireballs. Now that is my idea of a closer. None of this finesse BS, give me the power. Give me the 1+ strikeout-per-inning.

Trot Nixon continues to quietly have a pretty damn good season. In the field, he probably has more potential web-gems than anyone else on the team, and maybe more than any other outfielder in the game. At the plate, he puts up his near-300 average and is on pace for close to 20 homeruns and 80 RBI. Not monster numbers, but consistent and clutch. Last night, he pulled one of Cordero’s 97mph fastballs like it was batting practice.

Red Sox Nation is absolutely blessed to have RemDawg as an analyst. I’ve seen countless games on the MLB extra-innings package and there is nobody that comes close to the entertainment and insight the RemDawg provides. Last night was another example.

With one out in the eighth, Blalock hit a grounder to Olerud at first. Clement hustled over to cover, but Olerud handled it himself. When Soriano gets to the plate, Tek calls time and goes out to talk to Clement. I’d assume they’re figuring out what to throw to Soriano. But Remy sets me straight. The visit was to give Clement a breather. He was at 110 pitches in 90-something degree heat and had just sprinted over to cover the bag. He needed a break. Then, they show the replay and pan to the dugout where right after the play, Wallace jumps up and signals to Varitek to go out and talk to Clement so he can catch his breath. So props also to Wallace and the NESN crew – I really thought even though it was a very minor subplot to a single inning, that it was a brilliant piece of analysis. In addition to his sports knowledge, he is just a funny bastard when he gets going with DO.

And, of course, everything looks better after a win.