Gagne converts his season of saves into Cy Young title

Friday, November 14, 2003

NEW YORK -- Eric Gagne was almost as perfect in NL Cy Young Award voting as he was on the mound.

The relief pitcher who converted all 55 of his save chances this year received 28 of 32 first-place votes and 146 points to win the honor Thursday from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

It was just the ninth time a reliever won a Cy Young, the first in the NL since San Diego's Mark Davis in 1989.

"We haven't seen a lot of relievers win that award, so I was a little worried," Gagne said during a telephone conference call.

San Francisco's Jason Schmidt was second with two first-place votes and 73 points. Chicago's Mark Prior got the other first-place votes and was third with 60 points.

Gagne, a 27-year-old right-hander, was 2-3 with a 1.20 ERA and had 137 strikeouts and 20 walks in 82 1-3 innings. He was converted from a starter to a reliever after the 2001 season and had 52 saves in 2002.

"I knew I had the mental attitude to be a closer,"Gagne said. "It was just a matter of doing it in the major leagues."

He is the only pitcher to reach 50 saves in more than one season and has converted 62 consecutive save chances since Aug. 26, 2002, a major league record.

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