Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields and center fielder B.J. Upton have been named the American League Co-Players of the Week for the period ending September 9th. They are the second pair of teammates to claim the A.L.’s weekly award this season, joining Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielders Torii Hunter and Mike Trout, who won for the period ending June 10th. The announcement was made earlier today on MLB Network.
Shields went a perfect 2-0 in two starts with a 1.59 ERA, one shutout, three walks and 13 strikeouts in 17.0 innings en route to winning his fourth career weekly honor (last accomplished for the period ending June 19, 2011). The Newhall, California native led the Majors in innings and was third in the A.L. in strikeouts for the week. Upton batted .400 (8-for-20) with one double, five homers, six RBI, seven runs scored and three stolen bases in six games for his third career A.L. Player of the Week Award (last accomplished for the period ending June 22, 2009). Among Major Leaguers, the Norfolk, Virginia native tied for the lead in homers, was second in slugging percentage (1.200) and was third in total bases (24). Upton was also tied for second in the A.L. in runs scored, tied for third in steals, ranked fifth in batting average and was sixth in on-base percentage (.478).
On Monday, Shields and Upton combined efforts to lead Tampa Bay to a 4-3 victory over the A.L. East-leading New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Shields went 8.0 innings for the Rays, allowing three runs on five hits with five strikeouts to pick up the win while Upton backed the offense, going 1-for-3 with a homer, a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored in the triumph. In Tuesday’s tilt with New York, the 28-year-old Upton collected an RBI-double and later followed a Desmond Jennings homer with a solo blast of his own as the Rays defeated the Yankees, 5-2, to pull within 1.5 games of the division lead behind New York and the Baltimore Orioles. On Sunday, Shields and Upton guided the Rays to a 6-0 victory over the Texas Rangers in Tampa. Shields surrendered just two hits and fanned eight in the 101-pitch outing for his second shutout of the season. Upton launched three solo homers in the contest to become just the third Tampa Bay player to hit three home runs in a single game, joining Jonny Gomes (July 30, 2005 against Kansas City) and Evan Longoria (August 18, 2008 against Minnesota). Upton’s three-homer barrage gives him 21 on the season, and he has now reached the 20-homer plateau for the second straight year and stands within three of his career-best of 24 set in 2007.