Tigers pitcher Verlander wins AL MVP award

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Tigers pitcher Verlander wins AL MVP award

NEW YORK - Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander struck a blow for pitchers and followed in the footsteps of his idol when he was named on Monday as the winner of the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Verlander, who last week won the league’s Cy Young Award as top pitcher, became the first starting pitcher in a quarter of a century to win MVP when he beat a group of worthy contenders in a vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

The 28-year-old led the league with 24 wins (24-5), a 2.40 earned run average and 250 strikeouts and threw a no-hitter in becoming the first starter to win the award since Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens in 1986.

Verlander, who helped boost the Tigers to the AL Central title and a trip to the league championship series, said he felt “pure elation” upon hearing he had beaten Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury and Toronto’s Jose Bautista in the voting.

“Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this,” he said in a conference call.

“I want to say it’s a dream come true. I can’t say that, because my dream had already come true to win the Cy Young and my next dream is to win the World Series. This wasn’t even on my radar until the talk started.”

The hard-throwing right-hander, whose fastball routinely hits 100 mph (160 kilometers per hour), was so impressive that the chatter about him being an MVP candidate began midseason.

“Somebody that was an idol of mine growing up, Roger Clemens, was the last starting pitcher to do it, and as I grew up into the game, I remember seeing he won the MVP and thinking that may never happen again.”

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