After smacking a three-run homer earlier in the game, Minnesota center fielder Lew Ford watched a pitch buzz over his head in the seventh inning Sunday. The offering from Seattle rookie reliever Clint Nageotte was hardly a reward for Ford's torrid week at the plate, but that would come Monday.
Ford was named the American League Player of the Week presented by Bank of America after going 12-for-33 (.364) with three home runs and leading the league with 10 RBIs and seven runs scored.
While posting a .636 slugging percentage, Ford helped Minnesota win six of seven games during the week and pull within 2 1/2 games of Oakland in the AL Wild Card standings.
"You can visualize that you're making up ground when you're winning," Ford said Sunday after his home run off Joel Piniero helped the Twins to an 8-3 win over Seattle. "We're getting optimism just because we're playing good and winning games. That gives you more confidence."
With regular center fielder Torii Hunter possibly out for the season with a fractured left ankle, Ford has filled in nicely in multiple ways. Ford made several athletic catches Saturday against Seattle and gunned down Chicago's Joe Crede at the plate Monday. His offensive explosion is also just what the Twins have lacked in recent weeks.
Ford scored a run in every game but one last week while recording five multi-hit games during that span. On Friday against Seattle, Ford connected for a three-run, seventh-inning homer to help the Twins beat the Mariners, 7-4. His homer on Sunday was his third in as many games.
In August, Ford has batted .333 (25-for-75) with 13 runs scored and five stolen bases, but this week's work earned him his first career Player of the Week award. He was chosen over Cleveland's Travis Hafner (.455, 1 HR, 8 RBIs), Detroit's Craig Monroe (.308, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs) and Seattle's Adrian Beltre (.310, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs).
Indians left-hander C.C. Sabathia (2-0, 1.80 ERA , 15.0 IP) and 19-year-old Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 20 Ks) also received consideration.
But at this point, Ford is concerned more with winning than awards, knock-down pitches and even the standings.
"Right now, we need to continue what we've been doing and not worry too much at this moment about the number of games back and all that," Ford said Friday. "We still have a lot of games left to play."
David Selig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.