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Hernandez named AL Pitcher of the Month

Hernandez nabs AL Pitcher of the Month

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The American League Cy Young Award still hasn't been decided, but Felix Hernandez sure made his case in the final month of the season.

And that allowed him to at least secure one award.

The Mariners' ace right-hander was named AL Pitcher of the Month for September on Tuesday, taking home the second monthly honor of his brilliant 2009 campaign.

In six starts during the final full month of the regular season, Hernandez led the Majors with five wins and added a stellar 1.35 ERA to go along with his undefeated record. The 23-year-old also notched 32 strikeouts and just 33 hits through 46 2/3 innings.

On Sept. 18, Hernandez tossed his seventh career complete game and second of the season, giving up just one earned run against a mighty Yankees lineup at Safeco Field.

Hernandez finished his All-Star season 19-5, which is tied for the Major League lead in wins and is an AL-best .792 winning percentage. His ERA finished at 2.49 through 34 starts -- including an MLB-best 1.99 on the road -- and he ranked fourth in the AL with 217 strikeouts in 238 2/3 innings.

This year, he became just the fifth Mariners pitcher to have a 200-strikeout season, and he joined future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (1995, '97) as the only pitcher in franchise history to post 200 innings, 200 strikeouts, 15 wins and a sub-3.00 ERA in a single season.

His rookie skipper certainly was a fan.

"Number one is the impact he's had on this club and the turnaround of this club," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said recently. "Being 23 years old, but also, statistically, I think there's several different stats that support that. And I think what he's done as of late in a situation where everybody is vying for that [Cy Young Award], he's pitched as well as anybody in baseball.

"And the teams he's pitched against. You go down the list, and for me, it's awfully exciting to watch where this guy came from at the beginning of the year, and the things that he's learned, to become and grow into arguably the best pitcher in the game."

Others receiving consideration for Pitcher of the Month were players who can challenge Hernandez for the big one at the end of the year -- the Cy Young Award.

Royals ace Zack Greinke went 3-0 with a 0.55 ERA and 35 strikeouts in September; the Yankees' CC Sabathia went 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 36 punchouts; and Blue Jays righty Roy Halladay closed out the final month 4-2 with a 1.47 ERA and four complete games.

The award didn't count Hernandez's final start of the season on Sunday, when he gave up two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in a win against the Rangers.

"It's not about me. It's the voters and everything," Hernandez said after his final start, regarding the Cy Young. "If it happens, it happens. Next year is another year. I feel pretty good about my season, so that's the most important thing."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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