Cleve­land’s Sa­bathia wins AL Cy Young Award

Sa­bathia first black pitcher to win award since 1985

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Mike Fitz­patrick

NEW YORK — C.C. Sa­bathia won the AL Cy Young Award on Tues­day, beat­ing out sev­eral wor­thy con­tenders by a com­fort­able mar­gin and be­com­ing the first Cleve­land pitcher in 35 years to earn the honor.

The In­di­ans ace re­ceived 19 of 28 first-place votes and fin­ished with 119 points in bal­lot­ing by the Base­ball Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica. Bos­ton’s Josh Beck­ett was sec­ond with eight first-place votes and 86 points, while John Lackey of the Los An­ge­les An­gels got the other first-place vote and came in third. Cleve­land’s Fausto Car­mona was fourth.

“I was ex­cited. My fam­ily and ev­ery­body were around,” Sa­bathia said on a con­fer­ence call from his home in Cal­i­for­nia. “I was sur­prised. Beck­ett had a great year and an even bet­ter post­sea­son.”

Sa­bathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strike­outs, pitch­ing a ma­jor league-high 241 in­nings. Beck­ett (20-7) be­came the only big league pitcher to win 20 games since 2005, com­pil­ing a 3.27 ERA in 200 2-3 in­nings. Lackey led the AL in ERA at 3.01, go­ing 19-9 and toss­ing 224 in­nings. Car­mona was 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA.

Vot­ing took place be­fore the post­sea­son, when Sa­bathia strug­gled while Beck­ett pitched the Red Sox to a World Se­ries cham­pi­onship with a string of dom­i­nant out­ings.

“I did look at a few num­bers,” Sa­bathia said. “I def­i­nitely thought that Beck­ett — it could have went ei­ther way. I’m just happy and thank­ful that it went my way.”

The only other Cleve­land pitcher to win the award was Hall of Famer Gay­lord Perry in 1972. Now that he has one, Sa­bathia plans to dis­play his tro­phy promi­nently at home.

“I’ll prob­a­bly keep it out.

I’m sit­ting in my of­fice right now, I’m look­ing for a spot. I’ll prob­a­bly put it right here,” he said.

Sa­bathia is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985 — and the first in the AL since Oak­land’s Vida Blue in 1971.

“That’s awe­some to be men­tioned with him,” said Sa­bathia, adding that he at­tended a re­cent meet­ing de­signed to fos­ter ideas for how to gen­er­ate more in­ter­est in base­ball among black kids.

While the top four Cy Young can­di­dates had sim­i­lar sta­tis­tics, Sa­bathia’s stamina ap­par­ently set him apart. Af­ter be­ing side­lined by in­juries the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons, the 6-foot-7, 290-pound left­hander stayed healthy all year and made 34 starts to Beck­ett’s 30. That helped ac­count for their wide gap in in­nings pitched.

The 27-year-old Sa­bathia also walked only 37 bat­ters, giv­ing him a re­mark­able strike­out-to-walk ra­tio that took pres­sure off his de­fense all sea­son. Beck­ett had 194 strike­outs and 40 walks.

“I think just keep­ing down the walks,” Sa­bathia said, “be­ing able to go deep in the games, I think was the big­gest deal in help­ing me win this.”

If bal­lot­ing had in­cluded their Oc­to­ber re­sults, how­ever, the out­come might have been dif­fer­ent. Beck­ett beat Sa­bathia twice in the AL cham­pi­onship se­ries and went 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in four post­sea­son starts, strik­ing out 35 and walk­ing two. Sa­bathia was 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA and 13 walks in three play­off out­ings.

“The first two I can def­i­nitely say I was try­ing to do too much,” Sa­bathia said. “Just try­ing to make per­fect pitches.

“I can’t re­ally say I was tired in the post­sea­son,” he added. “My arm felt fine. ... The ve­loc­ity was there.”

Sa­bathia is en­ter­ing the fi­nal sea­son of his con­tract with the In­di­ans, who are pre­par­ing to of­fer the lefty a long-term deal this win­ter. Cleve­land gen­eral man­ager Mark Shapiro would like to have his ace locked up be­fore spring train­ing starts in Fe­bru­ary.

Sa­bathia, picked by Cleve­land in the first round of the 1998 draft, has made it clear he’d like to stay with the In­di­ans — for the right price.

Beck­ett gets $100,000 for fin­ish­ing sec­ond, and his 2010 base salary in­creases $100,000 to $12.1 mil­lion. Lackey earns $75,000 for com­ing in third, and his 2009 base salary goes up $500,000 to $10 mil­lion.

AL and NL Man­ager of the Year will be an­nounced Wed­nes­day and then the NL Cy Young Award on Thurs­day, with San Diego ace Jake Peavy con­sid­ered the fa­vorite.

Bos­ton sec­ond base­man Dustin Pe­droia and Mil­wau­kee third base­man Ryan Braun won the Rookie of the Year awards Mon­day.

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