Because of his early September explosion, Thomas also currently heads the AL in home runs (seven) and RBIs (18) for the month. He was especially hot during a three-game series at Tampa Bay from Sept. 8-10, hitting 8-for-12 with three home runs and eight RBIs. Although it was the final home run of the series that earned him the most notice, the first one was a bit more spectacular. It came in the form of a 432-foot shot Friday night that scored two and proved to be the game-winner in an 8-6 victory over the Rays.
"I didn't even see it. I thought it stuck in the ceiling there for a second," said teammate Nick Swisher, who also was nominated for Player of the Week. "He's amazing. He's so patient, and then he hits one pitch and does damage with it. I love his approach. Everything's just so soft, so quiet ... and then all of a sudden he just drops the hammer on it."
Thomas also went deep in the series finale Sunday, marking the fifth straight game in which he's done so, tying a club record. He's homered in five straight games three times in his career, but not in the last 12 seasons. Sunday's shot was Thomas' 35th of the year, another A's club record for the designated hitter spot, and he's now homered in seven of the last nine games and nine of the last 12.
Most importantly for the team, manager Ken Macha pointed out, 14 of Thomas' last 23 long balls have either counted for tying or go-ahead runs. Great news for a team looking to hold fast to its 5 1/2-game lead over the Angels in the AL West.
"[Thomas] has just been unbelievable. I think he expects to hit a home run every time up there and contribute, and that's exactly what he's done," Oakland ace Barry Zito said. "He's contributed in a major way for us, mentally, in the last six to eight weeks.
"He's just been picking up momentum for the entire year ... and obviously what he's doing now is just amazing. That's why he's a [future] Hall of Famer, you know? I think it's good for all of us to watch what he's doing and have it inspire us."
This is the 14th occasion Thomas has been named Player of the Week, but his first time since joining the A's. He and Mark Kotsay (July 17) are the only Athletics to win the award this season. Also considered for this week's award were Swisher (.533 batting average, 1.267 SLG, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs), Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (.407, 3 2B, HR, 7 RBIs) and catcher Jorge Posada (.421, 3 HR, 9 RBIs), and Twins starter Johan Santana (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 14.1 IP, 23 K).