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Halladay named week's top AL player

Halladay named week's top AL player

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Roy Halladay won the Cy Young in 2003. That season, though, he didn't have nearly the start he has constructed in 2006.

The Blue Jays' ace was 3-2 with a 4.77 ERA at this point in 2003. On Monday, after two complete-game victories last week in which he posted a 1.00 ERA, Halladay -- now 5-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 2006 -- won the Bank of America AL Player of the Week Award.

Catcher Bengie Molina says Halladay has improved his pitches. After the ace's fastball and cutter were both sinking earlier in the season, Halladay altered the grip on the cutter, creating more movement and less sink.

"Before, it was just sinking. That's not him," Molina said. "Now, his ball is sinking and cutting, and that's what makes him tough."

He threw the full nine against the Angels last Monday, allowing one run on four hits and striking out nine. He retired the first 17 hitters he faced and disposed of the Angels in 1 hour, 59 minutes. It was his first complete game since June 13, 2005.

That's as strong as I've seen him this year. You knew it was a matter of time," manager John Gibbons said after the contest. "He felt fine. It was just a matter of building some arm strength, feeling good out there, and getting that cutter going."

He also helped the bullpen, a corps that had seen plenty of action in recent days.

"I think that's bigger, for the [bullpen] to get some kind of rest and get them more into the roles that they are going to be used for," Halladay said.

He matched Monday's effort Saturday against the Devil Rays, throwing just 89 pitches. He also faced 28 hitters -- just one batter off the minimum -- and completed the game in 2 hours, 12 minutes.

"He pitched a gem today. He had Cy Young stuff," the Devil Rays' Jonny Gomes said. "[He was] tough on lefties, tough on righties -- all strikes. He threw well."

This is the second time Halladay has won the weekly award. His first time came Sept. 7, 2003. He also threw two complete-game victories that week.

Other players considered this week were Minnesota's Justin Morneau (.417, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs), Chicago's Scott Podsednik (.467 batting average), Oakland's Danny Haren (2-0, 2.20 ERA) and Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir (1-0, 0.00 ERA, seven K's).

Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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