For the first time in 61 plate appearances this season, Daniel Murphy hit a homer last night, in his next-to-last at bat of the evening, getting the Washington Nationals within one run at 3-2 in the sixth inning of what ended up a 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox. It wasn’t the first ball Murphy squared up since returning, but it was the first with the correct launch angl—- I’ll stop.
It was a welcome sign, however, as Murphy, who had offseason knee surgery which cost him 65 games, acknowledged after the loss.
“I felt better today,” he said when asked about his swing, “... so hopefully we can build on that. Hopefully I can have some good at bats and try to lengthen out this offense with the way Soto and Tony and Eater are swinging the bat right now, I feel like our offense is really close to having some real length to it.”
That’s Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Adam Eaton, to help translate. Murphy is now 9 for 30 in his last eight games, after he went 3 for 29 in his first nine. Small sample sizes all the way around, but he’s shown signs of improvement at the plate, and though there’s still a bit of a hitch in his giddyup when he gets going, the knee was good enough for him to play all 13 innings in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon and give his manager the thumbs when he was asked if he was good to go last night.
So how’s his knee feeling?
“It feels good, thank you for asking” Murphy said.
What didn’t feel good was another one-run loss, the Nationals’ fifth such loss in a row, but Murphy said the process was good though obviously not the final result.
“If we could control base hits, we’d get more of them,” he sort-of joked.
“All we can really control is the process and I thought our process was good tonight.
“We fought hard. I thought Max [Scherzer] really, really grinded tonight to be able to go six [innings] and not put our bullpen in a bad situation heading into two more games against a really good opponent.
“We got traffic out there, keep giving ourselves chances, and I think eventually we’ll come through.”
They’ll give it another shot tonight in the second of three with the Red Sox in D.C.