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AL Cy Young race going down to the wire

Quick quiz. What American League pitcher is the current strikeout leader?

If you guess the Orioles' Erik Bedard, you'd be correct. Even though Bedard has not pitched in more than three weeks, his 221 Ks have him one ahead of Minnesota's Johan Santana and Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir.

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Of course, Bedard's strained oblique has knocked him out for the season and out of AL Cy Young contention. And, like the AL East race itself, that honor will be decided in the next 10 days. Until the Red Sox' swoon, Boston's Josh Beckett (left) was the odds-on favorite, but if the Bosox spit out the bit, Beckett (19-6) could suffer by association.

So if team fortunes have some bearing on who wins the Cy Young, you'd have to consider the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang and the Indians' C.C. Sabathia, both 18-7, and carrying the water for teams on a tear. The two Angels' aces, Kelvim Escobar (17-7) and John Lackey (17-9), probably cancel each other out.

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There are a couple of games tonight that could affect the outcome. Beckett pitches against Kazmir (13-8) down in Florida and Wang faces Toronto star Roy Halladay (15-7) in the Bronx.

Photo credit: Charles Krupa/AP

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