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Santana claims Cy Young

Posted: Friday, November 12, 2004

NEW YORK As joyous fans celebrated by honking car horns in Caracas, Johan Santana sounded overwhelmed. He became the first Venezuelan to win a Cy Young Award, and not only that, he was a unanimous choice.

''This is like a dream come true,'' he said after earning the American League honor Thursday. ''I'm a little surprised that I ended up the season where I ended up the season.''

The Minnesota Twins' left-hander received all 28 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America,

Santana, who went 20-6 and led the AL with a 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts, became the first unanimous Cy Young winner since Arizona's Randy Johnson two years ago and the first in the AL since Boston's Pedro Martinez in 2000. He is the 18th unanimous winner overall, the seventh in the AL.

Curt Schilling, 21-6 with a 3.26 ERA in his first season with the Red Sox, received 27 second-place votes and one third for 82 points. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, who led the major leagues with a career-high 53 saves, received the other second-place vote and 24 thirds for 27 points.

''I'm surprised this has been a unanimous decision,'' Santana said. ''I thought this was going to be a real tough race.''

Santana traveled Thursday morning from his hometown of Tovar Merida to Caracas. President Hugo Chavez planned to congratulate him Friday.

''It's on national TV,'' Santana said. ''Hopefully, in a couple of hours I'll be addressing the country and letting them know how I feel.''

Santana was 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break, mastering his changeup.

''I expected it, with the numbers he had he couldn't fail,'' said Luis Aparicio, a Venezuelan voted to the Hall of Fame in 1984. ''He's going to continue winning.''

Voting was conducted before the start of the postseason, when Schilling beat the Yankees in Game 6 of the AL championship series and St. Louis in Game 2 of the World Series despite pitching with a dislocated ankle tendon held together by sutures. Boston went on to sweep St. Louis to win the World Series for the first time since 1918.

''It was amazing,'' Santana said. ''To me, he was just a hero. He did great things for Boston and for baseball. That's a role model for a young baseball player to follow.''

Schilling, who led the major leagues in wins, has never won a Cy Young Award. He was runner-up for the third time, tying Johnson, a five-time winner, and 1957 winner Warren Spahn for the most second-place finishes.

Santana had a breakout season after going 12-3 for the Twins in 2003. Coming off surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, he was 2-4 in 12 starts before beating the New York Mets on June 9.

After helping lead Minnesota to his third straight AL Central title, he beat the Yankees in the opener of their first-round playoff series and, pitching on three days' rest, left Game 4 with a 5-1 lead before New York rallied against the Twins' bullpen.

Santana, eligible for free agency after the 2006 season, lost in salary arbitration last February and earned a $1.6 million salary with no bonuses. Schilling, who had a $12 million salary, earned a $400,000 bonus for finishing second.

Houston's Roger Clemens won the NL honor Tuesday, his record seventh Cy Young Award.



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