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Bedard named AL pitcher of the Month

Bedard named AL pitcher of the Month

Coming off the best month of career, Orioles starter Erik Bedard was voted the American League Pitcher of the Month for July.

Bedard went 5-0 in six starts with a 2.21 ERA, striking out 52 batters in 40 2/3 innings pitched. His streak of dominance dates back further than the start of July, as he's allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts.

The 28-year-old lefty began his impressive month against the Texas Rangers on July 7, when he tossed a two-hit shutout while striking out 15 batters. Everyone from Baltimore manager Dave Trembley to Orioles' hitters to Hall of Famers praised the ace's recent work.

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"I just think it's an evolution of pitching [for] three or four years and having overwhelming talent," said former Oriole and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, who has more wins (268) than any other Oriole. "There's never been a doubt about that. His stuff is so electric that even if he's not trying to strike them out, they're going to strike out."

The southpaw has logged five games this season and nine in his career with 10 strikeouts or more, and only three Orioles -- Mike Mussina (26), Palmer (13) and Tom Phoebus (10) -- have more.

For the season, Bedard is 11-4 with a 3.05 ERA and leads the league in strikeouts with 181 in 147 2/3 innings pitched. This is his first American League Pitcher of the Month Award.

"That's why he's the No. 1 guy on your staff," Trembley said of Bedard's work in Boston earlier this week. "He's one of the best pitchers in the league. When you don't have your best stuff and you compete the way he competed [on Tuesday], it ought to tell you something about what kind of stuff this guy's got. Not only makeup-wise, but ability-wise."

Bedard beat out Cleveland's Fausto Carmona of (5-1, 1.74 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 41 1/3 IP) Detroit's Todd Jones (1.38 ERA, nine saves), Kelvim Escobar of the Angels (2-2, 1.67 ERA, one complete game, 29 strikeouts), and Seattle closer J.J. Putz (1-1, 0.73 ERA, eight saves, 15 strikeouts, 12 2/3 IP).

Bedard now has four different fastballs that he uses, and two curveballs that he hasn't been afraid to throw in any count, which contributed to his astronomical strikeout total.

"It doesn't matter right now [who he's facing]," Palmer said. "That's what happens when you can throw to both sides of the plate and throw a curveball at any time. It's not just an ordinary get-me-over curveball."

Always a man of few words, tough, Bedard has maintained a modest outlook, even after capping his near-perfect month in Boston.

"Breakthrough, I don't know. I just did all right [on Tuesday]," Bedard said. "I told myself to just concentrate on going pitch-by-pitch, and that got me through."

Geremy Bass 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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