Murphy's Magical Ride Continues
Daniel Murphy was once again the hero for the Mets in Game 1 of the NLCS Monday night. (Flickr : Paul Hadsall)
Daniel Murphy continued to be the star of the New York Mets’ postseason in game one of the NLCS Saturday night.
In the first inning against Chicago Cubs’ starter Jon Lester he smacked a solo homer to put the Mets ahead where they would stay for the remainder of the 4-2 victory. And then in the bottom of the ninth when Chicago had the tying run at the plate, Murphy made a diving stop to his left on a grounder to clinch the victory.
Murphy, playing in the postseason for the first time in his career, has really embraced the opportunity. In the Mets’ division series matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers he hit three homers, two off of Clayton Kershaw. In the deciding game five of that series Murphy had a homer, RBI double and scored a run on a sacrifice fly after a daring steal of third to propel New York to a 3-2 victory.
“I think the ball has to look like at least a softball right now,” Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon said in relation to Murphy’s offensive surge this postseason. “At least (a softball), maybe more in the beach ball variety.”
Over the years Mets manager Terry Collins believes Murphy was overshadowed by some of the star players New York had on its team like Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado and even now David Wright.
“There’s been a host of guys that have come through here and Dan Murphy has been that one steady guy that you look up, he plays hard,” Collins said. “He’s always coming through for you. He learned how to play second; he’s done a good job. You put him at first, he never says a word. He’s a baseball player. I’m not surprised at anything he does.”
During the regular season, Murphy hit just 14 homers which was actually the highest he had ever hit in his seven year career. The left handed hitting Murphy, hit just one of those homers in the regular season against a lefty pitcher. Now in just six postseason games he has four total homers, three off of southpaws.
When asked about what he has been doing differently in the postseason at the plate, Murphy joked that he had been saving the homers up during the regular season. He then corrected himself saying if he knew what he was doing he would have hit more homers during the regular season. But he was able to pinpoint some help he got from Mets’ hitting coach Kevin Long who had him to start hunting pitches in the middle of the plate in.
“I started getting a little more aggressive, so we kind of talked and found out what are my biggest strengths and what are my weaknesses,” Murphy said about his time with Long. “And he really helped me to play as much as I could to one of my biggest strengths, I think, which is I don’t swing and miss a lot. So if I can get a good pitch to hit, there is a good chance I should be able to hit it hard.”
Despite all Murphy has done this postseason, after game one of the NLCS he just wanted to talk about his teammates. He said he had never seen a homer like the one catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit off of the apple in center field. He also praised Juan Lagares for his base running, Curtis Granderson for his big two-out hit and starting pitcher Matt Harvey for his performance on the mound in the game.
Even when asked about getting one of the loudest ovations during player introductions before the game, Murphy wanted to give more credit to his teammates. “They’re cheering 25 guys, coaches, trainers, all of us because we’re still playing baseball,” he said.
The Mets are now playing baseball much deeper in October than many would have imagined earlier in the season and whether he wants to give the credit to himself or not, Daniel Murphy is a one of the main reasons why.