Baseball Report

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Justin Verlander became the majors’ first 20-game winner this season when he beat Minnesota 6-4 on Saturday.

Verlander (20-5) didn’t have his best stuff, allowing eight hits, including two homers and four runs with three walks and six strikeouts, but it was a win nevertheless.

He is the first pitcher to win his 20th game before the end of August since Curt Schilling did it with Arizona in 2002. It’s also Verlander’s first 20-win season. Bill Gullickson was the last Tigers pitcher to win 20 games, doing so in 1991.

“There have been times I’ve picked these guys up and there have been times they’ve picked me up,” Verlander said. “To get to 20 at this point in the season, obviously you can’t do it all on your own. These guys have helped me along the way and today was a good example of that.”

Verlander has been gold on the road this season. He has won his last seven starts away from home, the longest streak by a Tigers starter since Jack Morris won seven straight road starts in 1981.

It’s been a terrific season for Verlander, who threw his second career no-hitter in May and has taken two more into the eighth inning. He ranks second in the AL with a 2.38 ERA and leads the major leagues with 218 strikeouts.

He has also won his last 15 starts in which Detroit has scored three or more runs. The last pitcher to accomplish that was Juaquin Andujar, who won 18 straight for the Cardinals in 1985.

Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland wants his pitcher to win the MVP.

“I want everyone in here to know that I support Justin Verlander for MVP to the hilt,” Leyland said. “I want to make that perfectly clear.”

Flanagan’s death ruled a suicide: The death of former Baltimore Orioles pitcher and Cy Young Award winner Mike Flanagan was ruled a suicide. Flanagan’s body was found behind his Baltimore County home last week.

According to police, Flanagan was upset over financial issues.

Flanagan, 59, had been working as a broadcaster for the Orioles. After his retirement in 1992, Flanagan was the Orioles pitching coach, executive vice president of baseball operations and co-general manager.

Flanagan pitched 18 years in the major leagues, and was with the Orioles from 1975-87 and 1991-92. He won the Cy Young Award in 1979 with a 23-9 record and 3.08 ERA. A left-hander, Flanagan went 12-4 in 1983 when the Orioles won the World Series. He had a career record of 167-143 with a 3.90 ERA.

StatsWatch: Here are the top five active players with the lowest number of at-bats per home run —

  • — Ryan Howard, Phillies, 13.27 (280 career home runs)
  • — Jim Thome, Indians, 13.62 (602 HR)
  • — Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 14.12 (439 HR)
  • — Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, 14.59 (627 HR)
  • — Adam Dunn, White Sox, 14.64 (365 HR)

Note: Mark McGwire is the all-time leader at 10.61 AB per HR. He hit 583 homers.

Diamond Notes: Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz has a mild hamstring strain and will miss about three weeks…Rockies center fielder Carlos Gonzalez was named the NL Player of the Week after hitting .481 with three homers and 10 RBIs in six games. Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was the AL Player of the Week, batting .393 with five home runs and nine RBIs…In the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter passed Mickey Mantle as the player who has played the most games as a Yankee with 2,402…Jim Thome accepted a trade to the Cleveland Indians last week, returning to the team that he started his career with. Thome, who slugged his 600th career home run recently with Minnesota, played for the Indians from 1991-2002, hitting a team-record 334 homers.

Copyright © 2011 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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