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Cy Young goes to Peavy


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SAN DIEGO -- In hopes of "saving a few bullets," as he's apt to say, Jake Peavy once tried to remake himself into more of a pitch-to-contact guy, someone who took a conservative approach when it came to going after hitters.

That didn't last long, as the Padres right-hander quickly discovered soon enough that he just had to be himself if he were to be successful.


"I just feel like that's the way I've got to pitch," Peavy said during the season. "Be aggressive ... and that's the type of pitcher I am. I go as hard as I can for as long as I can and see where the cards fall."


On Thursday, a dreamy season got even better for Peavy as he unanimously captured the National League Cy Young Award, based on voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.


Peavy led the National League in just about every pertinent category in 2007 -- victories (19), ERA (2.54), strikeouts (240) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.67). Peavy also started the All-Star Game in July in San Francisco.


Peavy becomes the fourth Padres pitcher to win the Cy Young Award and the first since Mark Davis won the award in 1989. Randy Jones (1976) and Gaylord Perry (1978) also captured the award.


The 2007 season certainly represented quite a turnaround for Peavy, who was troubled in 2006 by shoulder tendinitis. He lost 14 games that season, posted a 4.07 ERA and never found a level of comfort when pitching.


Healthy in 2007, Peavy bolted to a fast start, beginning with six scoreless innings in the regular-season opener against the Giants. There were few hiccups along the way as Peavy won nine of his final 12 starts of the regular season with one loss and one no-decision.


Peavy certainly proved that his success wasn't just a result of his surroundings at roomy PETCO Park, either. In fact, Peavy performed better on the road, posting a 10-1 record with a 2.57 ERA in 15 starts.


Peavy -- who allowed one run or fewer in 18 of his 35 starts in 2007 -- is just the fourth player in Major League history to win two ERA titles before the age of 27.


To be sure, 2007 was filled with highlights for the 26-year-old, who is under contract for the next two seasons.


On April 25 against Arizona, Peavy struck out a season-high 16 batters, coming one strikeout away from tying Tom Seaver's National League mark of 10 consecutive strikeouts. In a stretch in April and May, Peavy struck out 46 batters in a span of four starts.


On Aug. 27, Peavy became the franchise leader in career strikeouts when he struck out 11 in a 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.


"It's special," Peavy said at the time. "Not many people even these days stay with an organization to do something like that. I feel privileged to be here long enough to do something like that. I tell people all the time, I'm proud to be a San Diego Padre."


Peavy won four starts in September to keep the Padres in the running for a spot in the playoffs. But he lasted only 6 1/3 innings on Oct. 1 in the Wild Card playoff against the Rockies, which was one of the few occasions when he was hit hard in 2007.


"He's got great stuff," Padres catcher Josh Bard said. "He's not trying to out-trick guys. I know it's hard to say sometimes when you see Jake and he's grunting and spitting, doing all that stuff, but he's really taken focus this year on how to execute [pitches to] guys, and obviously he's got once-in-a-lifetime stuff.


"And when you're able to do that and throw the ball where you want to ... it's a pretty tough combination."


Peavy was paid the ultimate compliment by Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who was asked in September what he thought of his team's chances in big games with Peavy on the mound.


"If it's a deciding game," Towers said, "there's nobody in baseball I'd rather have on the mound than Jake Peavy."



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