Erik Bedard, pitching against the Red Sox tonight, spells his name a bit differently. He replaces the "c" with a "k." I’ve always liked this spelling of Erik — mostly because it’s the same as the man who legendarily haunted the Paris Opera House and captured a young singer named Christine Daae — a story that has the rare trick of being among my favorite novels, movies (silent category) and Broadway plays of all time.
He is aptly named. The moniker Eric-with-a-K is of German heritage, and it means "rich in honors." Bedard could certainly be that, and sooner rather than later. He’s having a Cy Young-caliber year. Not only that, he’s just 28, has lowered his ERA every year since his first fullish season in 2004, and raised his win totals accordingly (assuming he manages four victories in the final six weeks). Bedard certainly seems primed, with 27-year-olds Josh Beckett and Chien-Ming Wang and 23-year-old Scott Kazmir, to compete as the AL East’s divisional ace for years to come.
His opponent tonight might have something to say about that. He’s just 26 himself, and is in contention for a few honors of his own, including AL Rookie of the Year. Daisuke Matsuzaka needs no introduction, and the game tonight could be an epic pitchers’ duel.
The Sox very much need to win. They enter a soft part of their schedule just as the Yankees enter somewhat more treacherous waters than they’ve been enjoying recently. The Orioles have been the Sox’ whipping boys in recent years, but Bedard is anything but. Opening the series with a win off Baltimore’s best pitcher could well set a tone for the coming weeks.
It’s too early for lineups, so here’s a look at your ideal lineup based on stats since July 1:
- 2B: Dustin Pedroia — .339/.397/.441
- SS: Julio Lugo — .312/.365/.432
- DH: David Ortiz — .322/.426/.548
- LF: Manny Ramirez — .320/.395/.608
- 3B: Mike Lowell — .341/.389/.477
- CF: Coco Crisp — .306/.392/.476
- 1B: Kevin Youkilis — .252/.359/.411
- C: Jason Varitek — .261/.358/.326
- RF: J.D. Drew — .242/.342/.347
Lots of on-base from this lineup, but where’s the slugging? Wow.