(DETROIT, MI) – Starting pitchers James Shields of the Tampa Bay Rays and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers have been named American League Co-Players of the Week for the period ending June 19th. The announcement was made earlier today on MLB Network.
In two starts last week, Shields went 2-0 with two complete games, one shutout and 15 strikeouts on the way to winning his second weekly award this season, previously accomplishing the feat on April 25th. On Tuesday, the California native tossed a five-hit shutout as the Rays topped the streaking Boston Red Sox, 4-0, at Tropicana Field. Shields struck out five and walked three in notching his fourth complete game and third shutout of the season, both new career highs. The victory halted a nine-game winning streak for the first-place Red Sox, with Shields becoming the first pitcher since Jim Abbott in 1989 to halt a Boston winning streak of that length with a shutout. On Sunday, the 29-year-old continued his mastery over the in-state rival Florida Marlins with his Major League-leading fifth complete game as the Rays defeated the Marlins, 2-1, in St. Petersburg. Shields allowed one unearned run on four hits with 10 strikeouts. In two starts against Florida this season, the sixth-year veteran is 2-0 with two complete games, one shutout, 23 strikeouts and one walk. In a May 22nd start against the Fish, Shields fanned a career-high and franchise record-tying 13 batters in a three-hit shutout in Miami.
In a pair of starts, Verlander matched Shields with two complete games and one shutout en route to a 2-0 record with a Major League-leading 17 strikeouts to capture his fourth career weekly award and second of the season, previously winning co-honors with Francisco Liriano on May 9th. On Tuesday, the Virginian spun a two-hit shutout as Detroit defeated the Cleveland Indians, 4-0, at Comerica Park. The Tigers ace carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Orlando Cabrera broke up the bid with a one-out single to center field. The second overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft struck out a season-high 12 batters and issued just one free pass for his second shutout this year. In his first career start in Colorado on Sunday, the 28-year-old was again dominant as the Tigers downed the Rockies, 9-1. Verlander scattered four hits and struck out five as he recorded his career-high-tying fourth complete game of the season, and the first by an opposing hurler at Coors Field this year. The three-time All-Star has won seven consecutive decisions over nine starts dating back to May 7th with 59 strikeouts, nine walks and a 1.73 ERA over the run.
Other nominees included Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who paced the A.L. with a .545 batting average, a .583 on-base percentage and tied for league-leads in hits (12) and stolen bases (4); Toronto first baseman Adam Lind (.364, 4 HR, 7 RBI); Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver (SHO at Seattle on June 14th); and Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett (SHO at Tampa Bay on June 15th). The co-winners of the American League Player of the Week, James Shields and Justin Verlander, are each awarded a watch courtesy of Game Time, the leader in licensed sports watches, available at MLB.com.