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Overbay earns AL Player of the Week

Overbay earns AL Player of the Week

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With the chance to face familiar National League pitching, Lyle Overbay fueled the Blue Jays' 5-1 record and earned the American League Player of the Week Award.

The first baseman earned the honor after batting .423 (11-for-26) during the Blue Jays' successful homestand against the Nationals and Phillies. He had four home runs, nine RBIs and 28 total bases to earn his first ever Player of the Week Award.

"They're just falling for me right now. It's fun," Overbay said after hitting two home runs in Friday's 8-1 victory over the Phillies. "I just wanted to get a ball in the air or a ball on the ground to score a run, and it just happened to carry out of the ballpark. I'm just taking good swings more consistently."

Overbay, who came to the Blue Jays in an offseason trade with the Brewers, spent the first five seasons of his career in the National League. He slumped to a .276 average in mid-June, but went on a tear once Interleague Play resumed.

In the last 15 games against the National League, Overbay hit .407 to raise his average above .300 for the season.

"I started feeling better, but that might be part of it, too," he said. "In this game, you have to play relaxed, and I'm a lot more relaxed than I was before because I know what the guys have and what to expect."

Overbay had at least two hits in five of six games to help fill the void left by Toronto's leading hitter, Alex Rios, who went on the DL last week with a staph infection in his leg.

Even though he wasn't as heralded as other offseason acquisitions like A.J Burnett, B.J. Ryan or Troy Glaus, the left-handed-hitting Overbay has been a force in the fifth spot in the lineup all year. He is on pace to set career highs in both home runs and RBIs.

"He slipped by under the radar because of all the other signings we had in the offseason," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But he kind of anchors us in the middle and he's been very consistent. He's just a good hitter. It's an adjustment coming into a new league."

The honor is the Blue Jays' second of the season. Ace Roy Halladay won the award back in May.

Other players considered were Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima (.412, two home runs, seven RBIs), Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.20 ERA, 20 strikeouts), Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis (.591, one double, one triple, three RBIs), Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (.375, four home runs, 12 RBIs) and White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe (.348, two home runs, 12 RBIs).

Greg Wagner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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