Santana wins second AL Cy Young Award

Friday, November 17th 2006, 6:26 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Johan Santana's second Cy Young Award is in the bag. Next week, he might have a chance to take home the AL MVP, too.

Santana won the league's top pitching honor Thursday for the second time in three years, and the Minnesota Twins' ace was a unanimous choice once again.

``I don't talk. I just let what I do talk for myself,'' he said.

Santana received all 28 first-place votes for a perfect total of 140 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Chien-Ming Wang of the New York Yankees finished a distant second with 15 second-place votes and 51 points. Toronto's Roy Halladay was third with 48 points.

Santana separated himself from all others during a dominant season, going 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA and 245 strikeouts to propel Minnesota from a poor start to the AL Central title.

With a baffling changeup and excellent control, the left-hander tied Wang for most wins in the majors and led the AL in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched (233 2-3).

Forget the Triple Crown _ it was the pitching version of a Quadruple Crown.

``I was trying to show people that what happened in 2004 wasn't a fluke,'' Santana said.

Thanks to his huge season on the mound, Santana could be a contender for another trophy, too. But he has much stiffer competition for AL MVP, which will be announced next Tuesday.

No pitcher has won an MVP award since Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley in 1992. The last starter to win was Roger Clemens for Boston in '86.

For what it's worth, Santana would pick Twins teammate Justin Morneau.

``I pitch every five days. He played every day. He helped the team every day,'' Santana said. ``There's a lot of things that are involved, but I think the MVP has to go to a player that helps his team every single day.

``What he did was unbelievable. And he did it on a regular basis. All the numbers are there,'' the pitcher added. ``It would be great if that MVP would stay with the Minnesota Twins.''

Santana also was a unanimous Cy Young Award winner in 2004, when he was 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts. He is the fifth pitcher to win unanimously at least twice, joining Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who did it three times.

The award was established 50 years ago, and there was only one selection from both leagues from 1956-66.

``It's definitely an honor to be compared to those guys,'' Santana said. ``Pedro is one of my heroes as a pitcher.''

The announcement also set off another wild celebration in baseball-crazy Venezuela.

``I can't describe what's going on here. People here love the game, they follow the game, they know everything we do,'' Santana said on a conference call. ``We made a lot of people happy.''

Arizona's Brandon Webb won the NL Cy Young Award on Tuesday.

For earning the AL honor, Santana receives a $100,000 bonus. And here's a scary thought: At 27, he thinks he can become even more effective, because there's more to learn.

``In the future, I want to be consistent from Day 1. We're still making adjustments,'' Santana said. ``I still believe that I can be better.''

Wang was the second consecutive runner-up from the Yankees. Star closer Mariano Rivera finished second to Bartolo Colon of the Los Angeles Angels last year, when Santana came in third.

``Two years ago, he was as good as you can ever be. Last year I thought he got robbed, not mocking anyone else. I thought he was the best pitcher in the game,'' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``This year, I think the only way I can put it is for you to name me a pitcher you like to have on the mound in a big game other than Santana. I'll tell you, 'No chance.' For me, I'd rather have Santana.''

The only other Twins pitchers to win the award were Frank Viola in 1988 and Jim Perry in 1970.

``This is a matter of pride and happiness for me, my country, my family and the Minnesota Twins,'' Santana said. ``The only downside is that I couldn't take our team to the World Series.''