Sigh instead of Cy.
Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, the King, saw anticipation turn to keen disappointment Wednesday when he fell short in his bid to win the American League Cy Young Award for the second time in his career.
The honor went instead to Cleveland’s Corey Kluber in a tight vote.
“I don’t know what to say,” Hernandez said. “That was tough. I’m a little disappointed, but you know what? It just gives me more motivation to work harder and to be better next year.”
Kluber received 17 of the 30 first-place votes and 169 points from a Baseball Writers’ Association of America panel, which consisted of two members from chapters in each of the AL’s 15 cities.
Hernandez got the other 13 first-place votes and finished with 159 points. Chicago left-hander Chris Sale was third with 78 points.
Each ballot listed five pitchers with points assigned on a 7-4-3-2-1 basis — seven points for a first-place vote, etc. All balloting took place before the start of postseason.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Kluber, who finished 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA. “I definitely didn’t expect it, so it’s a pleasant surprise.”
Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was a unanimous selection in winning the National League award for the third time in four years.
Hernandez, 28, loomed as the AL favorite after his previous selection as the league’s best pitcher in balloting by his peers (Players Choice Award) and AL executives (The Sporting News).
One possible explanation for why he failed to win the Cy Young Award:
The Mariners fell one game short of reaching postseason for the first time since 2001 — and perhaps some voters viewed one poor late-season outing by Hernandez as a decisive argument for Kluber.
The BBWAA vote typically takes place later than balloting on the other awards, which might have placed extra weight on Hernandez’s Sept. 23 performance in Toronto, when he allowed eight runs in 42/3 innings.
“Probably,” Hernandez acknowledged. “It was just one start. What can I say?”
Despite that stumble, Hernandez finished 15-6 in 34 starts and led the majors with a 2.14 ERA. He snatched the AL ERA crown away from Sale by pitching 51/3 scoreless innings in the season’s final game.
Hernandez pointed to another game — July 30 in Cleveland, when he lost, 2-0, to Kluber, who pitched a three-hit complete game. It was their only head-to-head matchup of the season.
“He beat me in Cleveland,” Hernandez said. “He had a great year. Sale, Kluber, myself … we all deserve that award. But you know, there’s only one winner.”
Even so, Hernandez contends he pitched better this season than in 2010, when he won the Cy Young Award by going 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA for a team that finished 61-101.
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “It was a great year. I felt fine the whole year. I think I pitched way better than in 2010. I’ll move on. It’s going to be a new year next year.”
Hernandez set a major league record this season by making 16 consecutive starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs.
The previous record was 13 by Hall of Famer Tom Seaver of the New York Mets in 1971.
“You think about what he did this year,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “That’s history. Nobody has ever done it. I’m not sure anybody will ever come close to it again in our lifetime.
“It’s just phenomenal. If you really think about that streak and what he did. You also think about the number of games when we didn’t score runs for him and what his record had a chance to be.”
It wasn’t enough.
“You know what?” Hernandez said “I’m going to prepare myself for next year. I’m going to prepare harder. I’m going to be in better shape than I was this year. And we’ll see what happens next year.”
The BBWAA concludes its series of award announcements Thursday by revealing the Most Valuable Player in each league.
The AL finalists are Cleveland outfielder Michael Brantley, Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez and Los Angeles outfielder Mike Trout.
The NL: Kershaw, Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano had one of just three hits for a major league touring team Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to Japan’s national team in Osaka, Japan.
The five-game series resumes Friday, when Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma starts for the MLB team in Tokyo. Iwakuma will be limited, under the rules, to 80 pitches in what is expected to be his only appearance.
The series continues Saturday and Sunday at the Tokyo Dome before concluding Tuesday in Sapporo. The two teams will also plan an exhibition game on Nov. 20 on Okinawa.
HOT STOVE UPDATES
Detroit reached a four-year deal to retain designated hitter Victor Martinez for $68 million, according to multiple reports.
Martinez, 35, was high, if not atop, the Mariners’ free-agent target list in an effort to boost their attack. He is one of three finalists for the AL MVP award after batting .335 with 32 homers and 103 RBIs in 151 games.• General manager Andrew Friedman admits it’s likely the Dodgers will trade an outfielder. He told ESPNLosAngeles.com that, “I think it’s most likely the best course of action.”
The Mariners have long had interest in Matt Kemp, who is guaranteed $107 million over the next five years. The Dodgers have indicated a willingness to eat some of Kemp’s salary, depending on the return in trade.