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Cy Young Award in AL given to Colon

2006-07-28 16:34

  Bartolo Colon won the American League Cy Young Award on Tuesday in a surprisingly one-sided vote, becoming the first Los Angeles Angels pitcher in 41 years to take home the honor.

  Colon, who led the league with 21 wins, was listed first on 17 ballots and second on the other 11 for 118 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He was the only pitcher named on every ballot, easily beating out New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, who received 68 points.

  Rivera got eight first-place votes, while 2004 winner Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins received three and finished third.

  “After the season, yeah, I've been thinking about it a lot,” Colon said through a translator during a conference call from the Dominican Republic. “And one of the prevailing thoughts was the fact that maybe I won't get it. Maybe it was going to go to somebody else. A lot of crazy things came into my head.”

  Dean Chance was the only other Cy Young Award winner in the Angels' 45-season history, winning in 1964.

  Though Colon (21-8) was the league's only 20-game winner, this year's Cy Young race was thought to be close. His 3.48 ERA and 157 strikeouts ranked eighth, while Rivera racked up 43 saves and a career-best 1.38 ERA. Santana went 16-7 with a 2.87 ERA and led the majors with 238 strikeouts.

  A shoulder injury sidelined Colon in the playoffs, but voting for all BBWAA awards takes place at the end of the regular season and excludes postseason performance.

  “Mariano had a great year,” Colon said, thanking Rivera for teaching him how to throw his cut fastball one day during batting practice years ago. “I did think about the fact that maybe he was going to come away and be the winner.”

  Both pitched for division champions, but the voters ultimately gave more weight to the starter: Colon threw 222 2-3 innings to Rivera's 78 1-3.

  And the award was big news in Altamira, Colon's hometown of about 3,000 people.

  “You don't even imagine what the scenery is around here. People stopping by and honking their horns,” Colon said. “It's been really, really crazy, crazy, crazy. It's the first time ever that we are celebrating something like this. There's going to be a lot of partying.”

  Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Colon wasn't much help in the playoffs. After pitching through back pain all season, he lost Game 1 to the Yankees in the first round, then left Game 5 after only 23 pitches because of inflammation in his right shoulder.

  “We would not have been in the position that we were without the year that Bartolo had,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He's got an incredible work ethic.

  “His ability to turn his fastball into three different looks is really the key to what he does on the mound. To combine the velocity with the command that he has is a unique package. It puts him in an elite group.”

  The injured ace was left off the roster for the AL championship series against Chicago, and the Angels were eliminated in five games by the White Sox, who went on to a World Series sweep of Houston.

  “I really, desperately wanted to pitch against the White Sox,” Colon said.

  Colon gets a US$500,000 bonus for winning the award.

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