Damon named AL Player of the Week
Week highlighted by sweep of ex-teammates at Fenway
Johnny Damon opened the Yankees' pivotal five-game series against the Red Sox with a triple and never looked back.
"That's what we've seen him do on the other side of the field for so many years," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He just rises to the occasion."
In fact, the center fielder rose to more than one occasion this week, torching his former team for two home runs, three doubles, a triple and eight RBIs and hitting .435 (10-for-26) as New York swept Boston in five games to take a commanding 6 1/2-game division lead over its American League East foe.
Perhaps the storied rivalry inspired him, but the 32-year-old Damon was just as strong at the beginning of the week as he was at the end. During the week ending Aug. 20, he hit .390 (16-for-41) with four doubles, two triples, four home runs and 12 RBIs, collected 36 total bases and bragged a slugging percentage of .878. For his efforts, he received American League Player of the Week honors, as presented by Bank of America.
Through it all, Damon remained humble.
"The fans are letting us know what's going on," he said Tuesday, after going 2-for-3 with a triple and a home run in a 6-3 win over Baltimore. "Any time you hear them start applauding, you know something good just happened."
It's a noise that's been ringing in his ears all week.
On Thursday, Damon went 3-for-4 with a homer against the Orioles. On Friday, he one-upped himself, going 3-for-6 with a triple, a homer, four RBIs and three runs scored in a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park that opened a five-game series against the team which he led to a World Series in 2004.
"It's always great when you can go back home where you've established yourself and play a great game," Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi said of Damon. "He had a lot of great memories, and he'd be the first one to tell you that. He's the one that broke us through."
But he harbored no soft spot in his heart for the Red Sox. Largely because of Damon's offense this week, New York became the first team in history to score 12 or more runs against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in three straight games. The Yankees defeated Boston 12-4, 14-11 and 13-5 during that time.
Although Boston slugger David Ortiz couldn't echo Damon's "this feels pretty good" sentiments, Ortiz said if anyone were to dominate an opposing team's pitchers, it'd be Damon.
"That's not a surprise. That's all he did when he was here," he said. "I'm not surprised."
Damon, who's hitting .296 (137-for-463) with 20 home runs, 67 RBIs and 22 stolen bases this year, is the second Yankee to win Player of the Week accolades this season. Giambi took them home April 16.
Also considered for the award this week were the Yankees' Bobby Abreu (.483 batting average, four doubles, thee RBIs, 10 walks) and Robinson Cano (.306, three doubles, two homers, 13 RBIs) and Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero (.407, three doubles, one home run, nine RBIs).
Twins pitcher Johan Santana (2-0, 0.60 ERA, 15 IP, 14K), Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay (2-0, 2.57 ERA, 14 IP, 5K) and White Sox pitcher Jon Garland (2-0, 0.61 ERA, 14 2/3 IP, 10K) were also in contention.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.