04/18/11 5:18 PM ET
Damon shares AL POW honor with Haren
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
In six games, the 37-year-old veteran hit .375 with two home runs, four runs scored, 15 total bases and a league-best 11 RBIs. He also posted a .625 slugging percentage and .400 on-base percentage while leading the Rays to a 5-1 record.
On April 11, the two-time AL All-Star returned to Fenway Park, going 3-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored and three RBIs against his former team in a 16-5 defeat of the Red Sox. In Thursday's series opener against the Twins in St. Petersburg, he topped off a come-from-behind victory with a two-run walk-off homer in the 10th inning to lift the Rays to a 4-3 victory.
Two days later, he again provided the heroics with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Rays over the Twins, 4-3, notching his second game-winning hit in three days. On Sunday, he finished his busy week with an RBI single, a hit that gave him 2,584 for his career and moved him past Ernie Banks and into a tie with Reggie Jackson for 79th on the all-time list.
Damon, who ranks fifth among active players in hits, is in the middle of a nine-game hitting streak and has at least one RBI in six straight contests.
Damon seemed to instinctively elevate his performance after Manny Ramirez retired prior to the April 8 game in Chicago. Manager Joe Maddon thinks Damon understands the team's dynamics.
"I think he recognizes the void [left by Ramirez's departure]," Maddon said. "I think he's smart enough to see that. I've seen him elevate his way. It's a little bit more demonstrative. He's getting out there."
James Shields believes that what the Rays are seeing from Damon is "what he's made of."
"That's kind of what his career has been based about," Shields said. "He's always wanted to be that guy. He's one of the best guys in the clubhouse. He's smiling at all times, even if he gets out. This guy's a true veteran. To be able to do what he did [on Thursday] is just who he is."
This is the third career AL Player of the Week honor for Damon.
In two starts this past week, three-time All-Star Haren notched a 1.17 ERA and held opposing batters to a .148 average while issuing just two free passes. On April 12, the right-hander recorded his third career shutout and first career one-hit game in a 2-0 win over the Indians, becoming the 11th Angels pitcher -- and the first since John Lackey in 2006 -- to toss a one-hitter.
Other nominees included Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, who hit .444 with five extra-base hits, five RBIs and a league-leading 20 total bases, and Rangers infielder Michael Young, who led the league with five doubles and tied Fuld for the league lead with 12 hits en route to a .522 batting average.
Damon and Haren will each be awarded a watch courtesy of Game Time.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.