BOSTON -- In a Red Sox Nation once prone to panic and paranoia, David Ortiz waited patiently for teammate Manny Ramirez to heat up this summer, speaking like a character from the movie "The Big Lebowski."
"Dude, I told you, 'Don't worry about Manny,'" Ortiz said last week. "Manny's a professional hitter. When you take those 400 homers he has and the .300 or something average he has lifetime, it's not coming out of nowhere. Dude, the guy's gonna hit."
Batting .407 (11-for-27) with five home runs and 15 RBIs in six games last week, Ramirez helped lift the surging Red Sox back into first place in the American League East. Ramirez's contributions to Boston's sweeps of Cleveland and Philadelphia earned him the American League Player of the Week award.
Since May 27, Ramirez's batting average has jumped more than 50 points to .275 through Monday. And, with Ramirez as a bellwether in dreadlocks, the defending World Series champions have won 12 of their last 13 games.
"You know, we need that," manager Terry Francona told MLB.com last week. "Manny is right in the middle of the order. He's one of our big guns. You know he's going to hit. ... His production is tremendous."
Other candidates for the honor included division rival Gary Sheffield (.300, three home runs, 11 RBIs) of the New York Yankees, Cleveland's Travis Hafner (.333, two home runs, eight RBIs) and a trio of Oakland Athletics: Nick Swisher (.385, four home runs, 10 RBIs), Rich Harden (2-0, 0.75 ERA) and Danny Haren (2-0, 2.65, 1 CG).
Besides those contemporaries, Ramirez now also competes against the record books. In Sunday's game against the Phillies, Ramirez launched the 19th grand slam of his career, moving him into a second-place tie with Eddie Murray all-time, trailing only Lou Gehrig.
In addition, this award represents Ramirez's second weekly honor of 2005 and the 13th of his storied career, which ties Frank Thomas for the most among AL players.
Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.