The Twins went 5-1 last week -- a week that ended with them taking two of three from the American League Central-leading Tigers -- and, in seven days, went from 5 1/2 games out in the division to a reasonable three with two weeks left in the regular season.
A big reason for that surge was Michael Cuddyer, who filled in admirably at the recently vacated first base and tied for the Major League lead with four home runs en route to being named the AL Player of the Week, presented by Bank of America, on Monday.
In six divisional games against the Indians and Tigers, Cuddyer hit .292 (7-for-24) with 11 RBIs -- thanks to four multi-RBI games -- five runs scored, two doubles and an .875 slugging percentage.
Last Monday, Cuddyer's 100th career home run and career-high 25th of the year was a three-run shot that tied the game against Cleveland in the eighth inning, a frame that saw Minnesota crank out six runs for the comeback win at the Metrodome.
"I definitely was aware of it, for sure," Cuddyer said of the milestone after that game. "It was a big home run, more for the team than myself. It's a good milestone, and it's cool and all that, but to be able to have it in the situation that it came in was awesome."
Then, on Saturday against the Tigers, he cranked out another three-run blast -- his third home run in as many games -- that catapulted the Twins to a 6-2 win and gave them a season-high six straight wins.
The 30-year-old Cuddyer, who's winning Player of the Week honors for the first time in his nine-year career, is mainly an outfielder but has played first base the past seven games in place of the injured Justin Morneau.
And Minnesota has barely missed a beat.
"As we all know, he's been all around the field [in his career]," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said recently about Cuddyer, who's batting .272 with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs this year. "He's played third base. He was a shortstop in school. He's an athlete."
Also nominated for the award was Cuddyer's teammate, Joe Mauer, who hit for an AL-best .556 batting average. Other nominees included Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (13 hits), Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (two home runs and 10 RBIs) and Royals backstop Miguel Olivo (13 RBIs).
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.