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Before Darvish and Iwakuma, the highest Cy Young finishes for Japanese pitchers had been fourth place, by Hideo Nomo in the NL in 1995 and 1996, and by Daisuke Matsuzaka in the AL in 2008.

“It is such an honor to be one of the finalists for the best award as a pitcher,” Iwakuma said in a statement before the voting totals were released. “I had never thought I would become a finalist here in the U.S., so this is very special to me and is a big surprise.”

Scherzer won his first 13 decisions of the season and made the All-Star team for the first time.

He helped pitch the Tigers to their third straight AL Central title, joined in a deep rotation by Verlander, the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister.

Scherzer went 16-7 last year, then added a curveball to an impressive repertoire that already included a hard fastball, slider and changeup.

He beat Oakland as a starter and in relief during the AL division series, then went 0-1 in two starts against Boston in the AL championship series _ he was pulled both times with the Tigers ahead.

Scherzer is distinctive for more than just his record. His eyes are different colors, with the right blue and left brown.

He’s also unusual for another reason: He’s made 174 regular-season and postseason starts for Detroit and Arizona, yet has never pitched a complete game.

Scherzer threw eight innings on seven occasions this year, and sometimes was taken out with a big lead. His big strikeout totals tend to run up his pitch counts, and he said he wants to be more efficient in the future.

And maybe even pitch a complete game.

“It is definitely something I want to achieve,” he said. “To throw a complete game, you have to have the right context of the game.”

Darvish led the majors with 277 strikeouts and went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA. Iwakuma was 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 185 strikeouts for the Mariners.

Sanchez was fourth and Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox was fifth. They each got a first-place vote.

Kershaw won his second prize as the National League’s best pitcher after posting a 1.83 ERA _ lowest in the majors in 13 years.

“This is such a cool thing. I can’t even explain what it means to me,” he said in an interview on MLB Network. “It really is a huge honor.”

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