As the Red Sox and Yankees hurtle toward another September collision, a familiar hero and a new face emerged last week under the glare of a heated pennant race. David Ortiz continued his late-inning dramatics and swatted five home runs, explaining why a designated hitter might win the American League Most Valuable Player award with each vicious swing. Robinson Cano, meanwhile, emphatically stated his case for the American League Rookie of the Year hardware, batting .429 with 13 RBIs and nine runs scored to ignite New York's offense.
For their clutch efforts, the two sitting on opposite ends of a bitter rivalry have been named the American League Players of the Week. "He's unbelievable," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said last week after Ortiz's game-winning blast against Toronto. Look at the eye-popping statistics that place "Big Papi" among the league leaders: 43 homers, 132 RBIs and 109 runs scored. "You win the MVP because you help your ballclub, you win games whenever the team needs it, and because you put up some numbers," Ortiz said. "But I can't control that. If they think I deserve it, I'll take it." Cano pushed the Yankees closer toward the Red Sox with a prolific week that included the first grand slam of his young career. The shot erased a four-run deficit and helped New York sweep Tampa Bay, this season's newfound nemesis. "He's really something," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Cano. "He's in a good groove right now." The 22-year-old Cano became the first AL rookie to claim the award since teammate Hideki Matsui won it in June 2003. "Down the stretch, we need everyone to contribute," Alex Rodriguez said last week. "Robinson Cano has really come into his own in the last two weeks."
Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.