11-17-2009, 12:08 PM
Sorry mm, not smart enough for the link.
Per ESPN news.
11-17-2009, 12:09 PM
KANSAS CITY -- Zack Greinke won again on Tuesday -- this time taking the Cy Young Award as the American League's best pitcher.
Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez received two first-place votes and finished second in the balloting with 80 points. Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander received one first-place vote and placed third overall.
Hernandez and Verlander each won 19 games, and there was a suggestion in some places that Greinke's 16-8 record, a rather modest win total for a Cy Young winner, might override his Major League-best ERA of 2.16. But that did not happen.
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Certainly, there was no argument that Greinke was one of the most dominating pitchers of 2009 in either league. His performance and his award brightens what was a disappointing season for the Royals.
"Zack Greinke has always been a potentially tremendous talent and we were all fortunate to watch him perform this past year," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "He was everything that he and all of us expected him someday to be."
Greinke, 26, became the third Cy Young winner in club history. Bret Saberhagen won in 1985 and 1989, and David Cone won in 1994. Cone was the only other starter to win the AL award with as few as 16 wins and he did it in a strike-shortened season. Brandon Webb was the last starter to win the National League award with so few wins, having gone 16-8 for Arizona in 2006.
"It's a great tribute to Zack and who is he is as a person and everything that he's had to battle through," Moore said. "It's a great story."
It sure is -- Greinke emerged from the shadow of a social anxiety disorder that took him away from the game for two months in 2006. He worked his way back to the Royals with a tour in the Minors that year and spent most of 2007 laboring in the bullpen. Back full force in 2008, he made 32 starts en route to a 13-10, 3.47 season that set the stage for this thunderous year.
Among other accomplishments, Greinke struck out 15 batters and threw a one-hitter in back-to-back outings in August as he headed toward a strong finish. He was 6-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his last 11 starts.
He attracted Cy Young notice from the beginning, winning his first six starts and registering a 0.40 ERA. Only legendary pitchers Walter Johnson in 1913 and Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 had won their first six starts while posting lower ERAs.
His strong getaway was helped by the development of a changeup, a pitch that successfully augmented his sizzling fastball and devastating slider. That was a Spring Training project that Greinke attacked with his usual single-minded zeal. Never mind that he got hammered in some exhibition games.
"He knew a changeup would make him better and he stuck with it," pitching coach Bob McClure said. "As the season progressed, it got better and better and better. He got more movement with it, it was much more comfortable, he was throwing it in all different counts."
There's no doubt that Greinke could have won 20 or more games with a bit more help. For one thing, the bullpen blew four leads after he'd left the game. For another, the Royals didn't score many runs for him. In the 17 starts in which he took a loss or had no decision, the Royals scored a total of 37 runs for him, just 2.2 per game, including only 15 runs in the eight losses (1.9).
Even so, he stood tall.
"If a player is going to win an award, you always have to look at whether or not he was dominant," Phillies scout Gordon Lakey said, "and, in his case, he was certainly dominant. You put him on a team with the offense the Yankees had or you put Sabathia on a team that doesn't have a lot of offense, the record would probably just be the opposite. They just didn't score a lot of runs for him but he had the ability to win close games even when they didn't score, especially early in the season."
Earlier, Greinke was named the AL's top pitcher by The Sporting News, the Players Association and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. At midseason, he was the Royals' only player in the All-Star Game and pitched a perfect inning in the AL's 4-3 victory in St. Louis.
Among other things this season, Greinke went through his first four starts and 29 innings before giving up an earned run and through his first 83 1/3 innings before giving up a home run.
His 242 strikeouts, second in the AL to Justin Verlander's 269, included the club-record 15 on Aug. 25 against the Indians.
"He was changing speeds with everything, whether it be his fastball, curveball or slider," said the Indians' Jamey Carroll, who struck out twice in that game. "He was throwing anything and everything up there at different speeds. There was no pattern, and we couldn't get in a rhythm."
Then, in his next start at Seattle, came a one-hitter -- the only hit a second-inning single. Greinke mowed down the last 22 Mariners he faced.
That made him just the fourth pitcher in history to follow a 15-strikeout game with a one-hitter, matching Pedro Martinez (1999), Randy Johnson (1998) and Vida Blue (1971).
His ability to command his pitches, moving the ball in-and-out, up-and-down with pinpoint accuracy, and to vary his speeds, was phenomenal.
"Not many guys command the fastball and throw the ball as hard as he does and yet be as comfortable throwing a 60-mph fastball as a 95-mph fastball," said Lakey, the scout.
There was one big scare for Greinke. On Sept. 17 at Detroit, he was drilled by a fourth-inning line drive just above his precious right elbow. But he finished five shutout innings before going for X-rays (which were negative) and made his pitching coach extremely proud.
"I'll tell you what -- that's a gamer right there," McClure said.
Greinke didn't miss a start and pitched six scoreless innings against the Red Sox in his next outing.
What Greinke did so well this season was to develop a knack of reading hitters and feeling what they were all about. It went beyond just firing away.
"Too many guys are just throwing it and not paying attention to what the hitter is doing or what he did previously on the last swing and they don't feel the hitter," McClure said. "And he's starting to feel the hitter and I think we're just seeing the top of the surface of what he's going to be able to do."
That, of course, was part of Greinke's maturing process, which was as noticeable in the clubhouse and the dugout as it was on the mound. He became more outgoing in a marked change from his earlier years.
"Zack was just super-shy and didn't want to have a relationship with anybody," teammate David DeJesus said. "And then last year he started morphing into a person who would take a chance and go out of his way and do something [with] someone. And then it came to this year when he was just a different person. He was playing cards and having fun. He was up on the [dugout] fence talking to guys in between his starts. It just seemed like he was having a fun time at the field. ... The anxiety [was gone]."
For Greinke there's another big event coming up on Saturday. He and longtime sweetheart Emily Kuchar will be married. The celebrations just keep coming.
11-17-2009, 12:09 PM
DaWolf with the save.
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