NEW YORK -- Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins was a unanimous pick for the American League Cy Young Award on Thursday, rewarded for a stellar
second half that helped his team win its third straight division title.
Santana went 20-6 and led the AL with a 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts, going 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break.
He received all 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, becoming 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
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.
"I'm surprised this has been a unanimous decision," Santana said from Caracas, Venezuela, during a conference call. "I thought this was going to be a
real tough race."
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 suture. 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 became the first Venezuelan to win the award, and fans in Caracas honked car horns when they heard the news.
"It's on national TV," he said. "Hopefully, in a couple of hours I'll be addressing the country and letting them know how I feel."
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
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.
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.