WASHINGTON — This just in: Daniel Murphy is human.
As good as the Washington Nationals’ second baseman has been in his first season in D.C. — and he arguably has been as good as anyone in baseball — he has been downright superhuman against the New York Mets. Entering Tuesday, Murphy was batting .412 with seven homers and 21 RBIs and had at least one hit in each and every game against his former team. As if that weren’t enough, he went out and collected two more hits in his first four at-bats Tuesday.
“I was trying to put it in play,” he said. “I was unsuccessful. I saw curveballs and fastballs.”
Murphy’s manager was a little more forthcoming.
“Blevins has been around a long time,” Dusty Baker said, trying not to act shocked that Mr. Met-killer came up short. “They know Murph as well as Murph knows them. It’s a situation where they got Murph tonight, but Murph’s gotten them many, many, many, many, many, many times.”
The Cubs had the bases loaded twice early in the game and failed to score both times. Kris Bryant struck out in the second inning after Cardinals manager Mike Matheny used a quick hook on lefty starter Jaime Garcia, replacing him with hard-throwing righty Alex Reyes. The move proved fruitful as Reyes threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings, though he walked six. Three of those walks loaded the bases again in the fourth, but Jorge Soler flied out.
“They did the right thing at the right time,” Fowler said of Cardinals pitching.
Why is this important, other than for determining where the Cubs will clinch the division? For the same reason it was important during their loss Saturday at Houston. One way for a great team to lose unexpectedly in the playoffs is to come up short with that one hit when it’s needed most, that one hit they got plenty of times in Games 1 through 162, but for whatever reason escapes them in October.
Using the past four games as an example, the Cubs missed on chances Saturday and lost 2-1, then came out and pounded the ball Sunday, winning 9-5. They did enough Monday at the plate to take a low-scoring affair 4-1 before losing one of those Tuesday. In a best-of-five series, that means a 2-2 tie.