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Astros' Scott (18-10) Wins Cy Young Award Over Fernando (21-11)

November 12, 1986|ROSS NEWHAN | Times Staff Writer

Mike and Vicki Scott, who are moving into a new house in Laguna Niguel, were notified Tuesday that they would be receiving a coveted wall decoration.

The ace of the Houston Astro pitching staff edged the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela in balloting by a committee of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America for the National League's Cy Young Award.

Having revived his career by mastering either the split-fingered fastball or, as some insist, the art of scuffing the ball, Scott had an 18-10 record, a 2.22 earned-run average and a major league-leading 306 strikeouts as the Astros won the National League West title.

He got 15 of the 24 first-place votes and 98 points based on five points for a first-place vote, three for a second and one for a third. He and Valenzuela, who received nine first-place votes and 88 points, were the only pitchers named on every ballot.

Valenzuela, the 1981 winner, was 21-11 with a 3.14 ERA and a major league-leading 20 complete games for a team that finished fifth in the West and led the major leagues in errors with 181.

Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, who in September said he thought Valenzuela was sure to win the Cy Young, said Tuesday that he couldn't criticize the voting but that it did disappoint him.

"That's not to take anything away from Scott," Lasorda said when reached at the club's Vero Beach training base, where he is attending a baseball fantasy camp. "Scott did an exceptional job. He pitched well down the stretch. He helped his team win. I don't want to say anything that will sound like sour grapes. My point is that Fernando had to do an outstanding job to win 21 games under the conditions.

"We had so many injuries that we were always going with kids and patched-up lineups. If he had pitched with our regular lineup, he would have won at least 25 games. There were so many games he could have won if we'd have given him any kind of help. That's all I'm saying.

"I'm not saying he should have won (the Cy Young), I'm saying he could have. I've never seen him more consistent from the start of the year to the finish. I think (the voting) would have been a different story if we'd had our regular lineup behind him."

Was Valenzuela disappointed?

"I don't think he enjoyed the news, but he took it calmly and matter of factly," said agent Tony DeMarco, who called Valenzuela with the results at his home in Etchohuaquila, Mexico. "I personally thought Fernando would win, but our attitude is that he will have a long career and many chances to win."

The Dodgers released a statement in which Valenzuela said: "My congratulations to Mike Scott for having won the Cy Young Award. It's a great honor and he deserves it. I also want to thank the writers who voted for me."

It is a widespread belief that Scott swayed the undecided voters and clinched the award by pitching a no-hitter against San Francisco in his next-to-last start of the regular season, the game in which the Astros clinched the division title.

His two spectacular victories over the New York Mets in the National League playoffs did not influence the election, since ballots had to be mailed between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.

Of the no-hitter, Scott said: "It's hard to think that one game would make or break a season as far as the voting would go, but I'm sure it didn't hurt. It came late in the year, at a point where Fernando would pitch a good game and everybody thought he had it wrapped up, then I'd pitch a good game and everybody thought I had it wrapped up.

"I figured it would go down to the wire before most of the voters decided. I'd have only been surprised if someone other than Fernando or myself had won it."

San Francisco's Mike Krukow was third in the voting with 15 points, followed by the Mets' Bob Ojeda with 9, the Mets' Ron Darling with 2, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Rick Rhoden with 2 and the Mets' Dwight Gooden, the 1985 winner, with 1. Scott is the first nonwinner of 20 games to win the award in a year in which there was at least one 20 game winner since 1973.

The 31-year-old right-hander had a 29-44 career record for six seasons with the Astros and Mets before Roger Craig taught him the split-fingered fastball after the 1984 season. He went 18-8 in 1985, then continued to progress in '86, becoming one of the league's most overpowering pitchers amid accusations that he was doing more than splitting his fingers.

The contention that he was scuffing the ball amused Scott, who said it worked in his favor.

"A lot of hitters seemed to go to the plate thinking about nothing else," he said. "I think it disrupted their concentration and took away from what they were trying to do."

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