NEW YORK Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals won the NL Cy Young Award today, capping a satisfying comeback from shoulder surgery that jeopardized his career only a few years ago.
After going 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA, Carpenter received 19 of 32 first-place votes and finished with 132 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
He beat out Florida lefty Dontrelle Willis, becoming the first Cardinals pitcher to claim the honor since Bob Gibson in 1970.
Willis, who was 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA, was listed first on 11 ballots, second on 18 and third on three for 112 points. Seven-time winner Roger Clemens got the other two first-place votes and came in a distant third at age 43.
The Rocket led the majors with a 1.87 ERA, but a lack of run support from his NL champion Houston Astros limited Clemens to a 13-8 record, which surely cost him votes.
Voting for all BBWAA awards is conducted at the end of the regular season and excludes the playoffs, when Carpenter went 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts. But St. Louis was eliminated by the Astros in the NL championship series.
The right-hander began his career with Toronto and had surgery in September 2002 to repair a tear in his pitching shoulder. The Blue Jays wanted to send him back to the minors, but he refused the assignment and chose to become a free agent before signing with St. Louis.
Carpenter missed the 2003 season while rehabilitating his shoulder, and was forced to have another operation in July to remove scar tissue.
The Cardinals were determined to remain patient. But at that point, who knew if they would ever get much from him?
Finally healthy in 2004, Carpenter went 15-5 with a 3.46 ERA. But he missed the postseason because of a biceps injury, and St. Louis was swept in the World Series by Boston.
Carpenter won 13 straight decisions this year from June 14 through Sept. 8, helping the Cardinals to the best record in baseball (100-62). He threw 241 2-3 innings and struck out 213 batters.
He and Willis led the NL with seven complete games apiece. Willis had five shutouts to Carpenter s four.
Bartolo Colon of the Los Angeles Angels won the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday. The next award to be handed out is the AL MVP on Monday.
Gibson is the only other St. Louis winner, taking the honor in 1968 and 70.
Carpenter gets a $50,000 bonus for winning the award, and Clemens gets $25,000 for finishing third.
Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.