Halladay captures AL Cy Young

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

NEW YORK - Roy Halladay bounced back from A-ball to the AL Cy Young Award in little more than two years.

His pitching was so messed up during spring training in 2001 that the Toronto Blue Jays left him in Dunedin to work out his troubles, causing Halladay to wonder if his baseball career was at an end.

Now, he's left the rest of the league's pitchers behind.

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Halladay was an overwhelming winner of the American League Cy Young Award on Tuesday, easily beating Chicago's Esteban Loaiza.

''When I went down that far, and really had no idea what I was going to do to get it back until I found that help, (it) was a little scary for me,'' he said from Hawaii during a telephone conference call.

After winning a major league-high 22 games, Halladay received 26 first-place votes and two seconds for 136 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Halladay's big year included a 15-game winning streak.

He credited former Blue Jays pitching coach Mel Queen for curing his mechanics and sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman for straightening out his head.

''I think both of those go hand in hand as what made the difference for me,'' said Halladay, who has the most wins in the major leagues over the past two seasons.

The 26-year-old right-hander had never won more than eight games in a season when he went 0-2 with a 9.23 ERA during spring training in 2001. That's when Toronto sent him to Class A Dunedin.

Queen had Halladay change his delivery.

''I went from pretty much straight over the top to three-quarters, which basically gave me more movement to both sides of the plate,'' Halladay said.

Dorfman, who has worked with four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux, got Halladay to focus, to ''block everything out, be positive and go one pitch at a time,'' the pitcher said.

Halladay made it back to the Blue Jays on July 1 and went 5-3 in the second half. In his breakout year, he was 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA in 2002.

This year he finished 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA, going unbeaten from May 1 to July 27 and tying for the AL lead with nine complete games.

''It was an unbelievable ride for me,'' Halladay said. ''There were some games in there where I got a lot of help from my teammates.''

Halladay's wins came in his last 30 starts. He was 0-2 in his first six.

''When I started pitching better, we started playing better all together,'' Halladay said. ''They started scoring runs and helping me get comfortable.''

His 1-0, 10-inning victory over Detroit on Sept. 7 was the first extra-inning shutout in the major leagues since Jack Morris led Minnesota over Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Loaiza, who went to spring training with a minor league contract, was 21-9 with a 2.90 ERA and a league-high 207 strikeouts. He got the first-place votes of both Chicago voters - Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald and Doug Padilla of the Chicago Sun-Times - along with 16 seconds and five thirds for 63 points.

''I'm excited that I got second place,'' Loaiza said. ''I just want to continue next year with the same success I had this year.''

Toronto pitchers have won the award in four of the last eight seasons, with Halladay following Pat Hentgen (1996) and Roger Clemens (1997 and 1998).

Halladay gets a $100,000 bonus for winning, Loaiza gets $90,000 for finishing second and Boston's Pedro Martinez earned $500,000 for finishing third with 20 points. Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner, was 14-4 with a major league-leading 2.22 ERA.