NEW YORK, NOV. 11 -- Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox, a spring training holdout who started the season 4-6, won the the American League's 1987 Cy Young Award today. He becomes the first AL pitcher in more than a decade to be voted consecutive Cy Young Awards. And 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 news conference in Houston.
Clemens, a 25-year-old right-hander, who completed this season with a 20-9 record and 256 strikeouts in 281 2/3 innings, received 21 of 28 first-place votes and 124 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Jimmy Key of Toronto, 17-8 with a league-leading earned run average of 2.76, was second in the balloting with four first-place votes and 64 points.
Voting was based on five points for first place, three for second and one for third. Two writers from each AL city took part in the balloting.
"I won't say I'm surprised," Clemens said. "The only thing is that I felt that if I didn't win it, it should have gone to Frank Viola, because he did the most for his team."
The last American League pitcher to win consecutive awards was Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles in 1975-76. Detroit's 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 AL pitcher to win a Cy Young for a team that finished as low as fifth place. Dean Chance, with the 1964 California Angels, and Gaylord Perry, with the 1972 Cleveland Indians, also won the award with fifth-place teams.
Clemens earned a $150,000 bonus for winning the award. In addition, $150,000 will be added to his 1988 salary of $1.2 million.
Clemens, the major league's best pitcher in 1986 with a 24-4 record, 2.48 ERA and 238 strikeouts, was written off early to repeat as a Cy Young winner.
However, starting with a 4-0 win at Cleveland on June 17, he finished the season 16-3 with a 2.66 ERA in his final 23 starts.
Except for his won-lost record and his 2.97 ERA, Clemens had a better year in 1987 than he did in 1986 despite pitching for a worse team. He led the majors this year with 18 complete games and seven shutouts, compared with 10 complete games and one shutout last year, when Boston won the AL championship.
His 256 strikeouts were second in the league to Langston's 262, and only Charlie Hough of Texas pitched more innings, 285 1/3.