NEW YORK — Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox became the first American League pitcher in more than a decade to win the Cy Young Award in two straight years, taking the 1987 trophy Wednesday despite a spring training holdout and 4-6 start. Now, he says he can aim for the record books.
"It's an individual award. It gives me something to shoot for, something that no one has done before, win a third time in a row," Clemens said at a Houston news conference. "I beat the jinx. Now, I guess I have to do it again."
Clemens, who lives in Katy, Tex., had 256 strikeouts in 281 innings this season, during which he compiled a 20-9 record. He received 21 of 28 first-place votes and 124 points in balloting by a panel of Baseball Writers Assn. of America members.
Jimmy Key of Toronto, 17-8 with a league-leading earned-run average of 2.76, had four first-place votes and 64 points to finish a distant second. Dave Stewart of Oakland, at 20-13 the only other 20-game winner in the AL, was third with two first-place votes and 32 points.
"At the end of the year, I was very confident and very strong," Clemens said. "I think I may have been throwing the ball even better than I did at the end of 1986."
Clemens, who had the league's third-best ERA of 2.97, was the only pitcher in either league whose name appeared on each ballot.
Steve Bedrosian, the Philadelphia Phillies reliever, won the National League Cy Young award in a close battle with Rick Sutcliffe of Chicago and Rick Reuschel of San Francisco.
The last American League pitcher to win consecutive Cy Young awards was Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles in 1975-76. Denny McLain won the AL Cy Young in 1968 and shared it with Baltimore's Mike Cuellar the following year.
Clemens became only the third American League pitcher to win a Cy Young for a team placed as low as fifth. Dean Chance with the 1964 Angels and Gaylord Perry with the 1972 Cleveland Indians also won the award with fifth-place teams.
Following Stewart in the balloting were Doyle Alexander of Detroit, 8 points; Mark Langston of Seattle, 7; Ted Higuera of Milwaukee and Frank Viola of Minnesota, 5 each; Jeff Reardon of Minnesota, 4, and Jack Morris of Detroit, 3.
Alexander, 9-0 since an Aug. 12 trade that sent him from Atlanta to Detroit, had the other first-place vote.
Balloting is done by a panel comprised of two BBWAA members from each league city. They are asked to name their top three candidates, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, three for a second and one for a third.
Clemens earned $150,000 for winning the Cy Young. In addition, $150,000 will be added to his 1988 salary of $1.2 million as a result of his contract negotiated last April.
In 1986, Clemens had a 24-4 record, a 2.48 ERA and 238 strikeouts.