If Jacob deGrom ever had a speck of doubt that his teammates could and would have his back, that speck was obliterated Monday night. It’s not every pitcher—at his level or otherwise—who can have a rare putrid start, leave his team in the hole by five, and then watch with his own jaw joining every other one hitting the floor in Citizens Bank Park as his Mets did to the Phillies what, not so long ago, the Phillies did to their opposition with long-since-gone aplomb.
* Don’t look now, but the Toronto Blue Jays are turning the American League East into a potential all-out war to the wire. An eleven-game winning streak approaching the All-Star break does that for you. And don’t discount the morale boost when that streak includes thumping the Texas Rangers 24-4 over four games, the Colorado Rockies 15-5 in three, and the Baltimore Orioles, a division rival, 24-13, in three, including that 13-5 fricaseeing Sunday. And to think Sunday’s carnage only began when Edwin Encarnacion scored with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the first after Freddy Garcia plunked Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia on the first pitch. Encarnacion got his payback an inning later, driving one over the left field fence with Jose Bautista aboard—and two out.
Turns out the Chicago Cubs got a pair of A-level minor leaguers, Christian Vilanueva (3B) and Kyle Hendricks (RHP), from the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster . . . decent prospects but not necessarily blue chips. For the most part, few no-questions-asked blue chip prospects moved in the non-waiver trade period, Jean Segura (SS) possibly having been the bluest of the chips when he went to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal.
How and why did the Rangers—hungering for rotation help with Colby Lewis gone for the year (entering the final fortnight, his was the hole they needed to fill)—end up settling for Dempster when all was said and done? According to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal:
* Bernie Miklasz (St. Louis Post Dispatch) remembers Bob Forsch—who died at 61, a week after he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game Seven of the World Series—as a straight shooter who was an underrated pitcher . . . and maybe one of the few Cardinals who went out like a professional when the rest of the team was too busy imploding in Game Seven of the 1985 Series . . .
I’ve heard of a lot of baseball curses—from the Curse of the Bambino plaguing the Boston Red Sox until 2004 to the Curse of the Billy Goat that’s supposed to have plagued the Chicago Cubs since 1946 (tavern owner Sam Siamis was denied bringing his beloved goat into Wrigley Field, or some such thing)—but I’ve never heard of a curse tied to a baseball writer.
The Minnesota Twins and their fans may be tempted to change that. On 24 July, here is what Hall of Fame baseball writer Murray Chass (formerly of The New York Times, now writing for his own Website) wrote about the Twins returning to the thick of the American League Central hunt: