Suddenly, the Mets were back in first, and Keith Hernandez was an MVP candidate. He has hit .387 with 37 RBIs since July 1, which happens to be the day the Mets, who have won 28 of 35, began their move to the top of the NL East. Before his hot streak, Hernandez, who's at .298 with 66 RBIs for the season, was fighting one of the worst slumps of his career: His average had fallen to .251.
But his father, John, a former minor league first baseman, compared tapes of Keith when he was hitting well last year and when struggling this year, and noticed a difference. It seems that he could see the entire 17 on Keith's back from the centerfield camera shot last year, but he could barely see the 7 this year. Unaware that he had opened up his stance so much, Keith closed it, and the hits have just kept on coming.
Pat Gillick, the architect of the first-place Blue Jays, has scored again. The man who acquired 20% of the roster—Willie Upshaw, George Bell, Jim Acker, Lou Thornton and Manny Lee—via the $25,000 December draft, has come up with two more bargain-basement players. Tom Filer, a pitcher signed last fall to a Triple A contract, is 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five starts. Tom Henke, a righthanded reliever, was the compensation pick for the loss of free-agent Cliff Johnson. Henke, who is 6'5" and throws hard, had an 0.87 ERA in Triple A this year and is 3-0 with two saves in 10? shutout innings as a Jay. "If Jeff Reardon is the Expos' Terminator," says Gillick, "then Henke is Terminator South."
The Brewers' Pete Vuckovich has won three of four starts since the All-Star break, and it appears that his comeback after serious shoulder surgery is for real.... Tiger catcher Lance Parrish was signing autographs before a game in Kansas City when a "fan" handed him a summons, informing Parrish he was being sued in a dispute involving a truck-leasing corporation.... There have been 35 homers onto the roof in Comiskey Park, and Boston's Bob Ojeda has allowed three of them, the latest to Chicago's Ron Kittle.... Former Dodger reliever Steve Howe, who said he couldn't handle the pressures of L.A., signed with the Twins Sunday. The Twins have given out a ground rule for interviews, at Howe's request: "Please ask no questions relating to his past. He will not discuss the drug issue in any way, shape or form." ...At the Giants' present pace, they will lose 100 games for the first time in the franchise's history. For the moment, the Giants are the only team without a 100-loss season.
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