Daniel Murphy went 4 for 17 with a home run on the Washington Nationals’ last homestand, then connected for two hits, both singles in the series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park on Monday night.
On Tuesday night, however, Murphy looked more like the hitter he’s been over the first two seasons of his three-year deal with the Nationals, going 4 for 4 with two doubles in the 5-1 win over the Bucs.
“He’s starting to hit the ball well,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nationals evened things up in the three-game set with the Pirates. Murphy, of course, missed 65 games this year as he recovered from offseason knee surgery, and he’s just starting to round into form.
“I’m noticing he’s starting to hit velo really good,” Martinez added, “so that’s a good sign.”
“Yeah, I think that’s fair to say,” Murphy said when asked about his manager’s comments.
“As much as you think you’re going to get ready in Double-A, and it’s nothing against the guys in Double-A, the guys are in the big leagues because their balls do things different, and it’s not necessarily just the velocity, it’s the movement, secondary pitches, and hopefully I’m getting more comfortable at the plate and I’ll continue to try to string together good at bats.”
He did say that he’s feeling more comfortable at the plate, and he was spoiling pitches and barreled up the two doubles he connected on.
“I saw the ball better today,” Murphy said.
“I think I saw the ball better today than I did yesterday, I think it’s a testament to how hard [hitting coaches] Joe Dillon and Kevin Long have been working with me.
“It’s no secret that I haven’t really been super-productive so far in my at bats, but I’m feeling better and hopefully I can grind them out myself and do something to help the ballclub win each night.”
Martinez replaced Murphy in the field after his second double of the night in the seventh, sending Wilmer Difo out to second base, but he said it wasn’t an issue of any sort, just a decision that Murphy had done enough for the night.
“He did a lot of running,” the manager said, “so I thought the best thing was to get him out and get Difo in the game.”
Murphy said he was happy with the results personally. and for the Nationals, who bounced back from the loss in the series opener.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to win a series,” Murphy said, “after you lose game one, you want to come out and even the series, we have a chance to win the series tomorrow, excited about Gio [Gonzalez] going and hopefully as an offense we can continue grinding out at bats the way we did tonight.”
Murphy is getting a day off after his big night. We’ll have to wait and see what Martinez says about that decision when he meets with reporters before today’s game.