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In fascinating trade deadline postscript, Wilmer Flores helps surging New York Mets

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For the New York Mets, August has been like a dream, and nothing sums up their charmed life better than the saga of Wilmer Flores.

On July 29, reports surfaced that Flores was being traded in a deal that would bring Carlos Gomez to the Mets. An emotional Flores wiped tears from his eyes on the field, but the trade was never completed.

Since that night, the Mets have gone 20-9, and they now lead the NL East by 5 1/2 games. Flores has hit .322 with an OPS of .903 in that span. Gomez, meanwhile, ended up being traded from Milwaukee to Houston. He has hit .210 in the same span.

"I don't think I've changed anything (at the plate)," Flores said recently. "I feel the same way. I'm just trying to see the ball and hit the ball."

Flores outhitting Gomez over that short stretch underscores the unpredictability of deadline deals. When a team makes a trade in late July, there's only about two months left in the season, and that's not always enough time for the presumably better player to prove his worth.

For example, last year Detroit acquired David Price from Tampa Bay in a three-way trade, sending Drew Smyly to the Rays. Price went 4-4 with a 3.59 ERA the rest of the way for the Tigers, while Smyly went 3-1 with a 1.70 ERA. Price did make four more starts than Smyly, but the point is that in two months, anything can happen.

Including Wilmer Flores hitting like an All-Star.

Here are a few other developments from around baseball:

LACK OF LUCK

Shelby Miller is having a fine season for the Atlanta Braves. He has a 2.62 ERA, and he has a good chance to set career highs in innings pitched and strikeouts.

That makes it nothing short of baffling that Miller's record stands at 5-11.

PHOTO: New York Mets' Wilmer Flores (4) slides past Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart to score on a single by Travis d'Arnaud during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New York Mets' Wilmer Flores (4) slides past Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart to score on a single by Travis d'Arnaud during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

In Miller's last 18 starts, he's posted a 3.24 ERA and somehow gone 0-10. Atlanta's offense has been the main culprit. He's received only 21 runs of support in that span.

THINNING CROWD?

Is the race for the American League's second wild card finally narrowing to three or four teams? Texas (68-61) leads by 1 ½ games over Minnesota, and it's another two back to the Los Angeles Angels. The Tampa Bay Rays have lost five of seven and trail Texas by 4 ½, while Baltimore has dropped 10 of 11 to fall 5 ½ back.

We'll see if the Rangers, Twins and Angels can separate themselves in the coming week. One team to keep an eye on is Cleveland, which has won five straight but still trails Texas by five games.

FANTASY FOCUS

Rotisserie owners should have a good idea by now of what categories they need help in, and although it may be too late to make a big trade or a major acquisition off the waiver wire, some creative roster management can come in handy down the stretch.

For example, if you're in good shape in wins and strikeouts but your team ERA needs improving, dropping your least effective starters and replacing them with relievers might work — and the top middle relievers might still be available on the waiver wire.

And if you're doing well in saves but need more wins and strikeouts, you might consider fielding an entire pitching staff of starters. Your ERA might take a hit, but sometimes the best way to chase wins is by simply having more starters than anybody else.

(Unless one of those starters is Shelby Miller, apparently.)

LINE OF THE WEEK

Another week, another no-hitter. Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs pitched the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season when he blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 on Sunday night. It was the second no-hitter against the Dodgers in 10 days.

The Dodgers face Madison Bumgarner on Tuesday night.


AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.

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