Mora, Vazquez split AL honors

Mora, Vazquez split AL honors

There were too many deserving candidates to pick just one.

That's why Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora and White Sox starter Javier Vazquez have been named the Bank of America Presents the American League co-Players of the Week for the period beginning Aug. 11 and ending Sunday.

Mora hit .563 (18-for-32) with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBIs. That equates to a 1.031 slugging percentage and a 1.587 OPS.

He started the week by going 0-for-4 against Cleveland, but had at least two hits in each of his next six games, including five on Sunday against Detroit.

"He's the Natural," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Gil Thorp, did you ever read the comic strip? That's what he was [Sunday]. He hit it like he knew it was coming, probably did. He's had an incredible streak."

Mora's .432 batting average since the All-Star break is the highest in the Major Leagues. The Venezuela native is batting .286 with 20 home runs and 91 RBIs on the season.

Even when he's not getting base hits he's impressing his teammates.

"His outs are hard," Aubrey Huff said. "He's gone to like one of the best third basemen in the league in a matter of two months. Everything he's hit has been rockets. Whatever he wants to do, he's doing right now. I've never seen anybody this hot before in my life."

Vazquez went 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in two starts last week. He struck out 18 batters in 16 innings, issuing just one walk.

On Aug. 12 against the Royals, Vazquez pitched eight innings in which he scattered five hits and struck out 10.

Sunday against the A's, Vazquez threw another eight innings, allowing just four hits and fanning eight.

"He was great," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He has good enough stuff that when Javy pitches like that, well, you see the result."

The honor marks the first weekly award of Vazquez's career.

Vazquez is 10-10 this season with a 4.34 ERA and 159 strikeouts. He hasn't had quite the success he'd hoped for in 2008, but he's getting hot at just the right time.

"We needed a guy to go out and give us innings to save the bullpen, but hopefully it gives him confidence for the last month and a half," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.

"You can stay mostly away from the big innings when you get the leadoff guy out, and I did that," added Vazquez, who allowed just one leadoff hitter to reach base against the Royals.

The Ponce, Puerto Rico, native has struck out at least 10 batters four times this season and 37 times in his career.

Tourneau, the world's largest watch store, will supply Mora and Vazquez with luxury Swiss timepieces, suitably engraved, in recognition of their achievement as player of the week.

Other nominees considered for the player of the week honor were outfielder Raul Ibañez of the Mariners and Red Sox infielders Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis.

David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.